Journal Entry


AUTHOR: JENNIEC (aka Jennie)
SUMMARY: After having a peek in to the innermost thoughts of Cordelia, through the benefit of her diary, Angel’s world is once again knocked off its axis as their two worlds collide once again.
RATING: NC17
POSTED: 3 Sep 2003
CATEGORY: AtS S1, Angst, Humor, Smut
CONTENT/PAIRING: C/A, Slight B/A, C/D (no worries)
WARNINGS: None Listed
FICPIC CREDIT: N/A
AUTHOR NOTES:
1) A special thank you goes out to Califi for her support, encouragement and patience, Sunscorched for issuing the challenge, and for all the wonderful FB that gave me the courage to continue. A special shoutout goes to Cammy, may I one day be able to return the favor! (I know you know what this means!


Chapter 1

Four months later:

Russell grabbed Cordelia with a growl when suddenly the lights went out and a tall dark figure rose from the shadows. “Russell Winters.”

Surprised but infinitely relieved Cordelia stuttered, “Angel?”

Trying to remain focused with the task at hand, Angel ignored his stirring reaction upon hearing her voice, “I have a message for you – from Tina.” He stated, coldly.

Unaware of the implication and danger of the scene set before him, Russell replied, “You made a very big mistake coming here.”

Realizing Russell’s mistake, Cordelia felt compelled to point out “You don’t know who he is, do you? Oh, boy! You are about to get your ass kicked!”

A fight ensued; both vampires were evenly matched with strength and experience. Russell somehow managed to gain the upper hand, throwing Angel down.

With her voice laced with fear and concern on noticing the bodyguards, the guns; and her would be savior lying spread eagle on the floor before her, Cordelia managed to utter “Angel?”

Her voice drew him from his determined goal to destroy Russell Winters; he quickly took in his surroundings and noticed the bodyguards too. With quick thinking he pulled the carpet runner, effectively knocking them to the ground and allowing him the opportunity to get to the woman who had been haunting his dreams since his departure from Sunnydale.

Frustrated by the inept display of those meant to protect him and eager to just end this, Russell yelled, “Kill them!”

Protecting her from the first shot, he took a bullet in his chest. Angel then turned to pick up Cordelia. As more bullets hit him in the back, he jumped over the banister to the floor below.

“Angel! Ahhhhh!” Cordelia screamed, although trusting that he would keep her from harm.

They ran out the front door, into the waiting car – into a future neither could have predicted, but both had secretly longed for.
****************
The next day:

“What happened to Russell?” Doyle interrupted a very solemn Angel.

Struggling to keep his spiraling emotions in check, Angel replied, “He went into the light.” After Doyle and Cordelia patched up Angel’s gunshot wounds, he retired to bed for some much needed healing sleep, then promptly searched for Russell Winters and effectively ‘disposed’ of him. There was no way he would allow this creep to be a threat to Cordelia any longer than was necessary. He thoughts turned back to his few stolen moments with the woman he had saved last night.

Noticing his inner struggle Doyle interjected, “And yet you don’t seem to be in a celebrating mood.”

Barely able to put himself behind the wall he had so carefully built after he had left Sunnydale, and Cordelia, he replied coldly, “I killed a vampire. I didn’t help anybody.”

Seeing the now far away look on Angel’s face he continued on, determined to pull his newfound friend out of this funk, “Are you sure about that? Because there is a girl upstairs that’s as happy as can be.”

Above them they heard a scream. Both men jumped and rushed upstairs.

Bursting into the office, Angel carefully avoiding the sun streaming in through the windows, they scanned the room for the-would be evil. Cordelia stood – duster in hand. “Ah! Look over there! A cockroach! – In the corner. I think it’s a bantam weight!”

With a false bravado that Angel easily saw through, she pushed forward, “Okay, first thing. We need to call an exterminator – and a sign painter. We should have a name on the door.”

Confused, Angel said simply that, “Okay. I’m confused.”

Seizing her opportunity, Cordelia rambled on, “Doyle filled me in on your little mission. So I was just saying, if we’re going to help people, maybe a small charge. You know, something to help pay the rent, and my salary. You need somebody to organize things, and you’re not exactly rolling in it Mr. I-was-alive-for-200-years-and-never-developed-an-investment-portfolio.”

“You want to charge people?” That’s my Cordelia, life got you down, get right back up again!

“Well, not everybody. But sooner or later we are going to have to help some rich people, right? Right?”

Wanting to help her out, Doyle stood in her defense, “Possibly, yeah.”

Unable to look Angel in the face just yet, fearful he would turn her away once again, Cordelia decided to continue to take matters into her own hands, “Hand me that box. So I think that we should charge based on a case-by-case analysis, but with me working for a flat fee. – I mean, um…that is, – if you think that you can use me?” she finished, uncharacteristically unsure.

Quickly making the decision that he was going to help her out, Angel handed Cordelia the box.

Not willing to let him see the relief she felt that he had accepted her proposal, Cordelia strolled proudly in to the other room, tossing over her shoulder, “Of course this is just temporary – until my inevitable stardom takes affect.”

Although sensing it didn’t need to be said, Doyle brought Angel out of his musings, “You’ve made a good choice. She’ll provide a connection to the world. She’s got a very – humanizing influence.”

Angel mumbled with a half smile, “You don’t know the half of it.”

“Sure, she’s a stiffener alright, I can’t lie about that. But, you know, she could use a hand.” Somehow he knew that would be the winning argument.

Angel replied, unwilling to allow any of his thoughts to escape, “True.”

Feeling he was finally winning Angel to his side, Doyle stated the obvious, “You know there’s a lot of people in this city that need helping.”

“Hmm. So I noticed.”

Doyle, needing reassurance, added hopefully, “You game?”

“I’m game.”

Watching Angel descend the stairs with a new found purpose he thought to himself, “Why do I get the feeling there’s more to this story than meets the eye?”


Chapter 2

Journal entry, 05, October 1999

It has been 115 days since that night. The night that the forces of good, on the faces of children; conquered an evil incarnate. The night I walked away from those I owe my newfound soul. From the day Whistler came to me, and offered a destiny that would take me out of my miserable state, I remained unsure of what lay ahead. I could not fathom that I could begin to make right what the evil demon that struggles for purchase within my soul had so gleefully destroyed. As I am my demon, it was beyond my comprehension that I was capable of anything good, and right. Then the day came when I met the slayer. With a youthful, innocent appearance she was light against the darkness, and I was drawn to that light. It was a day I will remember like no other. It was the day my soul began to fight the struggle for dominance.

Days became weeks and weeks became months as I grew to become a soldier on the side of good. In a town snuggled upon the mouth of Hell, I became a soldier, for she who would save the world time and again. With what I now look upon as regret, I traded. I gave her my strength, my knowledge, and my soul. She, for her part, gave me reason, purpose and a chance to become whole again. Then, as if it were a bad Hemingway novel, it happened. We fell in love. I remember clearly the night that her light met the darkness of my soul. The words Whistler spoke to me the day my life changed, ring in my ears with a painful throbbing, “This isn’t gonna be easy. The more you live in this world, the more you see how apart from it you really are.” I didn’t understand then, but it is all too real for me now. I destroyed a part of Buffy that day. It is a moment that colors the life I have built here in LA and it tortures my soul. It is in those moments that I allow myself to forget, that frightens me most of all.

Today I saw the sun again, and for a moment I forgot. I cannot allow that to happen. Every night I lay down to a slumber filled with thoughts of Buffy, and our short but passionate time together. I find comfort in that love as I know it could never be. As with the passing of night and day, there are moments where each struggles for the right to own the sky. Never shall the two be as one. It is my punishment; it is my curse.

As I allow myself those moments of sunset, a moment of colors so beautiful – allowing night to descend upon us with deceit, I look up from the warmth and comfort of Buffy’s embrace, to find myself no longer becoming bathed in the night. I find myself bathed in the warmth of a sun that embraces my soul. I am looking in to the eyes of another. Cordelia. And my world comes crashing down, for I know the fate and destruction that one moment with her would bring.

I must keep my distance. I cannot allow her to be destroyed. She walked back into my life a lost soul, struggling – as am I – to find a place in this cold and unforgiving world. I cannot offer her the love that she deserves, but I vow this, I will protect and comfort her as she stands and is reckoned with. Her spirit gives me hope, and if the gods allow, I will both nourish, and feed of that hope. I can give her that much, I hope I remain worthy to ask the same.

A
*********
Dear diary,

It’s almost 4 months since I moved to LA. I came out here to make a name for myself and so far all I’ve been able to do is barely survive. I have an apartment (if you even want to call it that) that’s a mess, and I really don’t care. I’ve been going to parties more to scrounge for food rather than network, and my agent has stopped returning my calls. I really thought all was lost- then the most amazing thing happened! Well, not so amazing because I nearly got killed yesterday, but I didn’t. I can’t believe that I ran all the way to LA to escape all that is Sunnyhell, and not only do I almost become Vampire food, but the one who saves me is none other than Angel! And, oh god, he is still ‘Salty Goodness’, and I am talking ROCK salt! Now where did I put those potato chips? LOL! That bastard! Why did he have to go and save my life? Now I can’t hate him, I mean, how dare he? After that great time we had at the diner that night, he never talked to me again! OK, so he was shot with an arrow or something and like almost died, then the Mayor went all Godzilla on the school, but still! Not even Hello? That emotionally stunted, antisocial, prone to turning evil, eunuch! At least this time he was smart enough to hook up with that guy Doyle. He seems really nice, in a needs-a-new-wardrobe kind of way. He clued me in to what was going on, and now I have a job, fighting evil – with Angel. What am I doing? God, I’ll never learn.

me


Chapter 3

It had been almost two months since ‘Angel Investigations’ was born. Strangers were becoming friends, and friends were…starting anew. Cordelia had made good on her promise; she had organized the office. Well, at least she knew were everything was! She even went so far as to order business cards, although the guys had definite opinions about those. Their first few cases, usually brought to them by one of Doyle’s ‘visions’, were resolved successfully. Things were settling down to a comfortable routine.

“Angel, man – tell me about Cordelia. You knew her in High School.” Given Angel’s self imposed isolated habits, Doyle was given the benefit of getting to know Cordelia, and now he wanted more. After his initial impression that something was going on between these two, it was made clear that it was all his imagination. They barely spoke to each other unless it was business.

Feeling a stab of guilt that he had more insight to that question than he felt he had the right, Angel guardedly responded, “What do you want to know?”

“Everything! What was she like? Was she as rich as she says? What happened to all her money? Why is she in LA alone?” There wasn’t anything he didn’t want to know about her, and getting her to answer any questions was like trying to changing water in to wine…or whisky in his case.

Not willing to betray the confidence he had stolen from her, he replied as if he were speaking with the voice of one of the Scoobies, “Well, yes, she was very rich, and popular. She had a flock of people that followed her as if she were the second coming of Versace. They basically ruled the school. Then one day her father got caught cheating on his taxes or something, I never got the full story, anyway, that’s when things started to change.” He was satisfied that that was ambiguous enough to not reveal his secret. He hoped his friend wouldn’t press on.

“Shh, here she comes, don’t let her know I’ve been asking all these questions, I don’t want her to get the wrong idea”

“Doyle, if you want to ask her out, just do it” It disturbed him to think of her with another man, but he couldn’t be entirely selfish. He couldn’t expect her to remain alone, but, if he couldn’t have her, he was damn sure going to pick whom she was going to be with. He had only known Doyle for a few short weeks, but in that time he found himself surprisingly trusting of this odd little fellow. He had some good things going for him, one, he was Irish – always a plus, and two he was fighting the good fight. Doyle was becoming a really good friend, to both he and the cause.

Cordelia entered the inner office, shaking both Doyle and Angel from their inner musings.

“So, what do we owe this brain trust to, trying to figure out how to double our profits and get me that raise I so deserve?”

“Princess, I’d be happy to take you to a nice dinner, if that’s what you’re worried about.” Doyle’s not so subtle hints were now the norm.

“Yeah, because I would be seen with that outfit” She promised herself, she wouldn’t get close to someone again, not after Xander and…almost Angel. But, damn if he wasn’t making it hard on her.

“What’s wrong with my outfit?” let the games begin.

“Please, that shirt? The Salvation Army probably gave it to you just to get it off their rack!”

“I’ll have you know…”

“Children” If Angel left it to these two, they would never get together, and then who would Cordelia wind up with? Would she leave them? No, that thought was totally unacceptable. At least Doyle he liked. At least Doyle would keep her around… Thinking quickly, he came up with a solution.

“How about, I lend him a shirt, you get a good meal, and I get some peace and quiet!”

“I’m not gonna…” “There’s nothing wrong…” they started simultaneously.

“HEY!” he stifled a growl. This was hard enough without them making it more difficult.

“Alright, but only because you owe me for spilling coffee on my new skirt” Cordelia was the first to relent. In fact, she was a little surprised at herself that she was actually looking forward to it.

“I didn’t…” he caught himself, seeing the glare from Angel, “OK, good. Pick you up at seven?”

“Make it 7:30, I have to spend some quality time with Dennis or he gets cranky.” She may have agreed to this, but that didn’t mean she had to make it easy.

“Good, finally – some peace and quiet…” Angel was interrupted by someone coming in the front door.
Chapter 4

All heads snapped to attention as they piled in to the outer office to greet their new client; Doyle was the first to speak.

“Harry”

Both Angel and Cordelia turned to their friend a little shocked. Doyle was not one to share his life with them, (which, let’s face it, helped him to fit right in) and here it was, walking right through the front door.

“Francis” the beautiful blonde replied pleasantly.

“Francis? No, I’m sorry, you’re mistaken, this is Doyle” Blonde, she had to be blonde. At least she obviously didn’t know him…right? Cordelia could only hope.

“Allan Francis Doyle, that’s my full name. Only its just Doyle now.” He finished, staring unsure at the woman before them.

“Ah, Doyle, I should have known. Boy, when you leave your past behind, you really leave it behind” the woman retorted.

“As I recall, it wasn’t exactly my decision, now, was it?” he was on the defense.

Wanting to stop this from escalating any further, Angel cut in, “Did you want to speak with Doyle alone, or was it something we can help…”

“No, I need your help” she wanted to get this over with, seeing Doyle had stirred emotions she thought long gone. Besides, she really did need their help.

“I had heard through the demon grapevine that you were working here, and that you deal with ‘special cases’. I’m glad to see you finally coming around.” She couldn’t help that final dig; her ego demanded it.

“Yeah, whatever. Look, if you need our help I suggest you get to it, time is money. You are going to pay us, right?” Cordelia couldn’t help this overwhelming urge to protect her friend. In fact, it scared her a little. So much for not letting herself get too close to anyone.

“Cordelia!” Angel admonished, “Of course we are not going to ask her to pay – after all, she’s Doyle’s friend…”

“Wife” Doyle corrected.

The silence in the room was deafening. Cordelia could feel her heart drop, ‘I can’t believe I almost let myself fall for this, this – married man!’ Angel could feel the anger rise up in his throat, ‘He’s married and going after Cordelia? And I was going to help? I’ll kill him’.

“More like ‘ex’, just without the papers.” Harry had noticed the emotions dancing across the faces of Doyle’s associates, and it was beginning to become uncomfortable. She needed to stop this drama now. There were more important things at stake for her to continue to selfishly keep Doyle in the hot seat. Although in her mind, he did deserve it. Both Angel and Cordelia visibly relaxed at her words.

“Can we just get to the reason why you are here?” Doyle was feeling just as uncomfortable, and he wanted it over, the sooner the better.

“Right, the reason I’m here. I need your help getting a clan of half-demons out of the country. I made some plans, but they all fell through. Now they are running out of time.” Realizing that her main objective was a matter of life and death, Harry began to soften.

Stepping up to the role of ‘detective’, Angel began the questions, “Why do they need to ‘get out of the country’? What do you mean ‘running out of time’?”

“There is a sect of demons who feel that any creature that has a shred of humanity, needs to be cleansed. Sorta Neo-Nazi. They feel if they could rid the world of all but pure-bred demons they could rule that world.”

“The Scourge”, Doyle interrupted.

A little taken aback that Doyle knew what she was talking about, Harry stuttered, “Um, yeah, they are very dangerous and they are closing in. How did you know?”

“I get around” was his evasive answer.

“Doyle, are you OK?” Cordelia had noticed that he appeared visibly shaken and pale and she didn’t like it.

“Yeah, I’m fine, let’s just get to this demon clan that needs saving. Who and where are they?” He was not prepared to visit this part of his past, and his clipped speech lay testament to that.

Recognizing that he was shutting down, Harry continued cautiously. She knew that the next piece of news was going to have more of an effect than she had originally anticipated, “They are a breed of…half-Bracken demons hiding out in the basement of an abandoned building over by the docks.”

Cordelia noted the looks of recognition on the faces of both Angel and Doyle. But there was something more; she saw…was that sympathy on Angel’s face? Now she was just confused. She looked to Harry for answers.

“Doyle, I know this is hard, but they need your help. I have to leave first thing in the morning for Uzbekistan. There’s a tribe there that needs my help also. Please, I can’t leave unless I know you will help them” Harry no longer felt angry with her former husband. His demon status and his inability to deal with the ramifications was the cause for their break-up. She couldn’t get him to face it then, and now she was forcing him to not only face it, but to likely put his life on the line to do so.

Moments that seemed like hours passed before Doyle spoke, “We’ll help them”

The ensuing conversation of details and plans buzzed around Cordelia without her taking notice. She knew she should probably be paying attention, but there was unmistakably another conversation going on here, and she needed to know what. She hated being in the dark about anything. In her few short years, she had learned that not knowing usually lead to trouble, and usually for her. Only this time was different. This time she couldn’t shake the feeling that the trouble that lay ahead was not only going to be meant for her, but for everyone in the room. She silently prayed that she was wrong. Little did she know how right she was.


Chapter 5

The day that followed was all a blur to both Angel and Cordelia. They had found the clan, and managed to send them off to safety after defeating the Scourge – but not before losing a ‘Hero’ to the good fight. Both lost in their own private hell, they reflected on the events that took their friend from them.

After defeating the soldiers, the trio was left with one final battle. The machine, designed to destroy any shred of humanity it came in contact with, had been activated. It needed to be shut off.

Angel was first to offer his sacrifice, but Doyle wouldn’t allow it. This was his battle, and his alone. After effectively knocking Angel into the cargo hold, he turned to Cordelia. Grabbing hold of her face, he gave her the kiss he had waited so long for, then; morphing into his demon, he spoke his final words before leaping to his death. “Too bad we’ll never know if this is a face you could learn to love.” She was taken aback, first by the kiss, then by his demon visage. She knew right then and there that, yes, it was a face she could learn to love.

Overcome by grief, and what might have been, she remembered collapsing into Angel’s arms. Both held on to each other like a lifeline. Eventually, after getting the demon clan off safely, they made it back to their private sanctuaries – neither knowing how much their lives would never be the same.

Dear diary,

It hurts, it hurts so much. When I saw Doyle make that jump I froze in fear. I knew what was going to happen, and yet, did I stop him? No, I begged Angel not to, but after Doyle kissed me, I didn’t say a word. Not one word. He died because of me, because I was too weak to try to talk him out of it, too afraid of my own death. We could have figured something out, we’ve dealt with worse before – well maybe not, but still – I don’t want to be that person anymore, so selfish. I’m in this fight now, and I’m in it for good. God, it wasn’t until that moment, the moment he kissed me that I realized – I really could have had a life with him. Go me – a day late and a dollar short. Well, never again. I won’t, I can’t let life just pass me by anymore. Keeping myself closed off was supposed to protect me, well that bite me on the ass – big time! I’ve got to hold on to what I’ve got. And right now, that’s Angel. I don’t care what’s happened before, what’s brought us to this place. He is my friend and I’m going to make sure he knows that. Brood sessions? No – I won’t allow him to be alone either. Its crystal clear that life is too short, no more hiding from it just to keep from getting hurt. Tomorrow we talk; we’ll share our pain. We’ll remember Doyle…

me


Chapter 6

The days and weeks that followed Doyle’s death brought on many changes at Angel Investigations. Cordelia discovered that the kiss, once thought to be a tender goodbye, was in fact (in her mind) a transfer of the visions. It was weeks before Cordelia allowed herself to look upon that moment with fondness again.

At Cordelia’s insistence, Angel began to open up more. He was becoming her friend and her protector. For her part she promised the same, although, by protector, it was pretty clear she meant the protector of his soul. Angel found a comfort in that like he had never known before and he had found a woman like he had never known before. The two were fast becoming best friends.

Soon joining their little group was Buffy’s former watcher, Wesley Wyndham-Pryce. As an outsider himself, he clumsily began to fit in, soon founding his own niche he so desperately craved. As a ‘rogue demon hunter’ he…lacked experience; however, his years on the Council of Watchers proved to be an invaluable tool. It was during one of their cases, that Angel happened upon a scroll. Without knowing exactly why, he took it; hoping Wesley would know what it was – or more importantly, what it said. Not failing expectations, Wesley was able to offer some insight by the end of the day.

“Angel, I think I’ve identified this scroll” Wesley entered Angel’s office cautiously, apprehensive of the information he held in his hand.

“You know what it is?” Angel wasn’t surprised that he’d come through.

“If I’m right, these are the Prophecies of Aberjian – for centuries thought lost. I translated some of the text. I believe I know why you were drawn to it. – There is an entire passage – about you. – It doesn’t call you by name – but it tells of a vampire with a soul. – This doesn’t surprise you?” Wesley was disappointed at Angel’s lack of reaction.

“No.”

“But you said you didn’t know what it was.” Now he was confused.

“I didn’t, but – ”

Finally catching on, “ – somehow you did.”

“Yeah.”

“There is a design, Angel. Hidden in the chaos as it may be, but – it’s there – and you have your place in it.” Both men began to feel a newfound sense of purpose. Within their possession they held a key to the architecture of the fight of good vs. evil, although, it would be days before Wesley was able to offer more of what details the scroll held within its many languages.
**************

 


Chapter 7

“Wesley, are you getting anywhere with that moldy scroll?” Cordelia was getting bored, no visions, no cases – a bored Cordelia was a dangerous thing.

“Cordelia, this is not a ‘moldy scroll’ as you so succinctly described, it is a anthology of text gathered over 4000 years, meant to guide…”

“Whatever” she cut him off, not wanting yet another history lesson that she knew from experience could take hours.

He glared at her, “Yes, well, I do have something, but for one word…”

“Which one? Maybe I could help.” Cordelia was anxious to get this done so they could just move on already.

“I highly doubt that, unless your language elective in High School was ancient Sumerian” He wouldn’t show it, but if he were to be honest, he rather liked the repartee he and Cordelia engaged in regularly.

“You never know, it may have not been on the official curriculum, but I did go to Sunnydale High!” she playfully stuck her tongue out at him. Ha! Gotcha!

Struggling to suppress the grin that was threatening to form, he decided to take her challenge, “OK, fair enough, perhaps you can tell me what the word ‘Shanshu’ means.”

Damn, he took the bait! “I’ll just be out here…scanning the paper for anything that might be important.”

“Yes, I rather thought so” Score one for Wesley!

No one knew how much time had passed before Wesley spoke again, “I know what it means” Anxious faces turned to stone at his discovery, “Death”.
**************

 


Chapter 8

Journal Entry 23 May 2000

I look around me and I am humbled by the mortals who stand by my side – their strength and courage dwarfs my own. Armed with merely the will to triumph over evil, they continue to shame me. I, who have the strength of a vampire, and an immortality that squashes my vulnerability in battle, continue to have doubts that anything we do matters. My companions have faced trials that would easily break the weak of spirit. These trials may have broken me, would have given me ample reason to just give up. It is only by their example that I have not.

Losing Doyle to the fight left me teetering on the edge. It would have been so easy to just walk away, if it were not for Cordelia. As each day passes, I learn more about strength, courage, will, and love – than I have in all my years that I have spent merely passing through this life. That much is clear. It was not until I met this complex woman that I began to understand what it is to live.

Yesterday, I was faced with the prospect of losing her. The demon Vocah opened her mind to all that cry out in pain, endless visions of the helpless. Seeing her lying there – lost to us, and in so much pain herself – I was resolved. I vowed that from that moment on; I would move heaven and hell to insure her safety, and her place in my life. I can deny my feelings no longer. I love this woman and I need to have her by my side – always.

I know my feelings to be selfish. I know she deserves more than I can ever give, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. A light that feels so bright and attainable, I know it to be only a matter of time before I can become the man she needs me to be – before I Shanshu. I await that day I am once again human, without patience, as I long for her to be in my arms. I long for the day I can bring her to my bed and make all her dreams come true.

Cordelia Chase the time will soon be upon us. A time when I can freely caress that which you behold with the love and reverence I hold so dearly for you. For you and only you. This I promise, my resolve is born anew. The sun will be ours to share, my love everlasting.

A


Chapter 9

Since the day Angel made that silent vow, he and Cordelia had become inseparable. Angel was fighting with a new found strength knowing it would bring him that much closer to his goal – to Shanshu. Cordelia for her part was truly coming into her own while embracing her new family. Gone were the shields each brought with them, designed to keep themselves protected from any who dare come too close. Make no mistake, the walls were still there, they were just becoming easier to climb. Although neither had confessed their true feelings for each other, for those on the outside it was all too clear.

In the lobby of the new offices of Angel Investigations – formally the Hyperion Hotel, everyone tended to the business of the day.

“Angel” Cordy’s singsong voice echoed through the lobby.

“No” Angel sang back. Whenever Cordelia started in that tone, it usually meant bad news for Angel.

“Oh, come on! You don’t even know the question yet.” Cordelia started to pout. No matter what it took, she was going to get her way.

“The answer is still no. Cordy, I know that tone, and I never like the results. Last time you had me trapped at the mall for THREE hours! And for what? – One blouse. The one you picked out in the first store we stopped in, I might add” She was good, he’d give her that – but by now he was learning all the signs. Right after the pout comes…

She stamped her foot, “Argh!”

Ah, there it is.

“Not gonna work, Cordy” He was a Champion dammit, he could resist, unless she pulled…

With her hands behind her back, she batted her eyelashes, while swaying back and forth. In a tiny innocent voice she whispered, “Please?”

Damn! I hate it when she does that! Oh god, now what is she going to get me into? Just as he was ready to give in, he noticed her grabbing her forehead. As fast as his vampire reflexes allowed, he was at her side, ready to catch her as the vision took over her senses.

The team gathered around the Champion and his Seer as she thrashed violently, anchored only by the strength of the vampire’s arms that surrounded her. They waited patiently for the vision to end, all hating what this was doing to her. Gradually she began to calm down and catch her breath, all the while comforted by the gentle caresses and words of comfort – the only thing that made Angel feel at all useful during the ordeal.

Gunn handed her a glass of water, and Wesley the painkillers. They waited until she swallowed before Angel quietly asked her, “What did you see?”

“A man, in the park. He’s got a package…he’s waiting for someone, a woman. The package is for her” she breathed out.

“Is that all?” Angel hated pressing her for details, but this wasn’t much to go on.

“Um, yeah – wait…it happens today…around three o’clock.”

“OK, that gives us about two hours. Gunn, you get the cameras, stake out the spot in Cordy’s vision. Wes, you finish the research on the Sanchez case – we may need all hands on deck and I want to get that out of the way. I’ll go check our contacts.” Angel helped Cordy off the floor and went to get his leather duster.

“HEY! What about me? I am not just sitting here, I can help!” Cordy hated when she was being treated like a porcelain doll.

“Cor…” At her stern look, he rethought his next words, “Fine, you go with Gunn, one of you take the video camera, the other the digital. I’m sure Gunn would appreciate you pointing out the man from your vision” Although he threw in that last part for her benefit, he couldn’t help but think, ‘God this woman is so stubborn, what she needs is rest.’ Angel didn’t wait for her response; he just left for the basement sewer access.
**************

 


Chapter 10

“Tell me again why we got stuck on surveillance detail?”

Cordelia hated this part of the job, always stuck in some hot car, or stinky alley; or in this case, the bushes. She realized that this was an important part of the work they did, spying on the potential evil so they would be one step ahead, but it didn’t mean she had to like it. At least this time she was in good company. Over the last few months, Gunn had become an integral part of Angel Investigations. He was always there when they needed him, he was good with the fighting skills and he was now their friend. She sighed, all in all, it could have been a lot worse.

“You didn’t have to come, girl – I could have done just fine myself. Besides, as I recall, you volunteered”

Gunn enjoyed his time with Cordelia. It reminded him of the time he got to spend with his sister, before she was taken by a vampire. He had felt a great sense of loss at her death and was about ready to just give up. That is until he came across this crew. At first the idea of working for the very thing he hated was a little more than he thought he could handle. But as time went on, he grew to know Angel, and much to his annoyance, like him. Besides, Angel came as a team. For the first time in a long while, he had friends. Oh, his crew was his boys, no doubt. But this was different. These people were different. He, Wesley and Angel related to each other on the same level, something he hadn’t had in a long while. And he and Cordelia; well, they took to each other like brother and sister, something he had sorely missed. He felt like he was beginning to find his place in this world.

“Yeah, like you could walk and chew gum at the same time!”

“Cordy, I can use a video camera and I know how to take pictures! Besides, this thing has a little photo doohickey thing, see? Two cameras in one!” He was proud of himself for noticing that one!

“Pffft, like you would know how to get the pictures out of the camera if you did use it.” Damn, this girl could screw up a wet dream.

“Yeah, well, I’m sure there are instructions. I just need to give it to English and my job here is done” Ha! Take that!

“Shhh, someone’s coming.” Cordelia had noticed the intended ‘subject’ of their surveillance approaching.

“Oh, you’re good – I know what you’re up to” He wasn’t going to be fooled by those tactics.

“What!?!”

“Trying to throw me off my game, good one” he smirked, rather proud of himself for figuring out her master plan.

“Gunn – look!” Her frustrated ‘whisper’ bordered on shouting.

Realizing she wasn’t kidding, Gunn quickly sprang in to action, “Oh shit, how do you know if this thing’s on?”

“Argh! Boys and their toys. I thought you said you could handle this Scavullo!” When this was over she was definitely going to have to shove that camera…

“I got it, I got it!” Just in time too – the ‘subject’ was about to turn around.

Gunn was all set up and ready to shoot when he was distracted by Cordy’s audible gasp. “What, what’s the matter? Who is it? Are we supposed to know her?” He did not like the look on her face one bit. He knew Cordy got scared – they all got scared at one point or another, but just like the rest of them, she rarely let it show so blatantly.

“Come on, we have to get out of here – now!” She grabbed his arm and yanked him back to the car.

The ride back to the Hotel was silent – only adding to Gunn’s concern.
*********
Cordy ran from the car before Gunn had a chance to put it in park. She had to get inside and warn Angel – but how? Would he believe her? Was she really sure that’s who she saw? No – it couldn’t have been; she was just imagining things. It couldn’t have been her because she was dead. No, something was not right here.

Hearing the doors slam open drew Angel and Wesley from their books. Both looked up and immediately picked up on Cordy’s distress. Wesley was the first to speak.

“Cordy, how did it go? Where’s Gunn? Is something wrong?” Gunn chose that moment to come through the front doors. Cordelia sighed with relief; it distracted everyone long enough for her to run to the safety of the bathroom.

“Everything’s fine, I just have to use the little girls room”, she yelled on her dash to momentary safety from what was about to come.

Angel rose from the couch and approached the tall black man with a predatory grace that left no room for anything but the truth. He spoke in a frighteningly calm voice, “Gunn, what happened”

“Angel, man, I really don’t know. One minute we are about to film the exchange and just as the chick was turning around Cordy went white. The next thing I know, she’s pulling me to the car like her ass was on fire!” Gunn was just as confused and concerned as the rest of them, but he had no answers either. He hoped the vampire accepted that, because he really had nothing else to add.

“Well, who was it? What did she look like? Do we know her?” Angel was getting more concerned and frustrated by the minute. If someone didn’t start talking soon, heads were going to roll.

“Angel, seriously. I don’t know. You have to ask Cordy” Gunn was getting as frustrated as Angel. The mysteries were for Wesley; he was research guy. They were warriors; what they needed was something to fight – and soon.


Chapter 11

Cordelia paced the small bathroom, trying to figure out her next move. Should she tell Angel? Should she go back out and make sure she was right? Should she just stay in this bathroom until the next apocalypse? That last option was looking mighty good right now.

“OK Chase, pull it together. Just go out there, tell Angel – so we can formulate a plan and get this over with.” OK, she was going to have to do a much better job at convincing herself than that. She used to be a cheerleader – head cheerleader for god sakes. OH who am I kidding, I can’t. How do I go out there and tell the man I…love…that he is about to loose his soul? I can’t. I can’t lose him. I mean; I know he doesn’t love me, at least in that way, but he’s still my best friend. Dammit! You are Cordelia Chase, stand up straight, shoulders back, and march right out there and face this! You can do it! You have to.

With a shaky hand, she reached for the doorknob and let herself out of the bathroom.
**************
She barely made it into the main office when Angel started firing questions at her.

“Cordelia, what’s going on? Who was she? Why are you so afraid?”

“Afraid? Cordelia Chase does not get afraid, I had to go to the bathroom, that’s all. You try sitting in the bushes for a half hour after drinking a grande mocha cappuccino” Her shaky voice betrayed the words she spoke.

“Cor, just tell me. Who was it?” His tender voice was melting her resolve. She stared down at her shoes, shifting from one foot to the other, trying to get the courage to speak.

Seeing her struggle, Angel walked over and gently placed his hand on her chin, lifting her face so their eyes would meet. “Cor, its OK, we’ll handle it. Just tell me.”

Seeing the warmth and concern, she managed to squeak out, “Ms Calender”

His face immediately registered shock.

“I know, I know, it couldn’t have been her, I don’t know what I was thinking, maybe someone put a spell on me or something, trying to play with my mind, to try to drive you crazy, I don’t know, I…its…Angel, I’m so sorry, I shouldn’t have said anything before I knew for sure. It was only a few seconds, I’m probably wrong” She stopped only to take a breath. Before she could continue on, Angel stopped her.

“Cordy, its ok, we’ll figure it out.”

His reassurance did nothing to help. She was in a frenzy now. “No its not ok Angel, its not ok!”

“CORDY!” He needed to calm her down and get to the bottom of her distress.

“NO, I’m going after her, I’m gonna prove that I’m wrong. I can’t do this again; I can’t let it happen. Oh God, this is my worst nightmare, I can’t do it.” She was now mumbling, almost incoherently, to herself.

“Cordy, what are you talking about, what is your worst nightmare? What can’t you do? Cordelia, what’s going on with you?” He wasn’t sure he wanted the answers to those questions, but he needed to get to the bottom of this. Something had her more upset than he thought she should have been.

“Angelus, you losing your soul. It’s my worst nightmare. I can’t…”

There it was, the answered he feared the most, “Glad to see you have so much faith in me.”

Seeing the anger starting to build in his dark eyes, she tried to explain, “Angel, that came out wrong.”

Not willing to let it go that easily, he continued, the hurt obvious, “Sounded pretty clear to me,”

She did not picture this happening with an audience, but she knew she had to say it or she would lose him, “Angel, I don’t fear you losing your soul, I have faith in you, I believe in you. I fear your soul being taken from you, and I don’t know if I can keep my promise.” She finished the last part barely above a whisper.

Knowing immediately what she meant, he turned to her pleadingly, “Cordy, you have to…”

“I can’t, not anymore; he is going to kill me. And that makes me afraid for both of us.” Tears that had been threatening to escape began to slip down her cheeks.

“Cordy”, Her tears were breaking his undead heart. He did not want his demon to ever re-emerge, and if he did, he wanted him gone. She had promised him, if Angelus should ever return she would stake him. He needed her to keep that promise. Not fully understanding what she actually meant, he took a deep unneeded breath and spoke the words that would change their lives forever. “You don’t have to be afraid of my demon. You don’t need to be afraid of Angelus.”

“Angel, been there, done that, twice!” Although grateful he was trying to allay her fears, she was still unbelieving.

“No, Cordy, you don’t understand. You don’t have to worry about Angelus killing you, he wouldn’t.”

“But…” What is he talking about, has he lost his mind?

Seeing the disbelief, he cautiously continued on, “He wouldn’t because he…because he…(Say it!) loves you. Don’t ask me how I know, but Angelus loves you, almost as much as…I do. Although I can’t promise that your time together would be…pleasant. So killing him shouldn’t be a problem. Now granted, he would probably try to turn you, which I guess is killing you, but you would still be around, and maybe Willow could restore your soul…” Now he was rambling nervously.

Cordelia stood stock-still. The shock of the words he had just spoken rendered her motionless. He loved her. Not just as his best friend, she felt amazingly clear on that, he loved her. His final words shook her from her reverie.

“…but Angelus would be gone before he could raise hell, probably literally knowing him …” her raised hand stopped his uncharacteristic ramblings. She walked tenderly towards him, and placed a shaky hand upon his right cheek. Eyes never leaving his, she glided in closer, tentatively gracing his lips with hers.

“Cor?”

“I love you too”

A tear rolled gently down his cheek as he placed his forehead to hers, “You realize, this changes everything”

“Yeah, I know”

“We have so much to talk about, I can’t do this to you, I can’t let you give up the…”

Knowing where this was going, she spoke the words he had uttered earlier, “It’s OK, we’ll figure it out”

He couldn’t help the chuckle that escaped his lips, “I don’t deserve you Cordelia Chase”

“I know. Who does? But you are as close as anyone is ever going to get.” This time her smile did reach her eyes. Behind them they heard a cough. Realizing their friends were still in the room they turned quickly, amused by the sight before them. Both men were trying hard to recover the tears that threatened to fall. Gunn was the first to recover.

“Well, it’s about time. This went on any longer I was going to lock you two in a room till you had this out!”

“Alright, alright, could we just get back to the matter at hand?” Angel knew the abuse he would suffer at their hands, and he would take it – in time. Right now he wanted to get the ‘Jenny Calender’ thing over with so he could have that talk with Cordelia. He didn’t know where their relationship would lead, but for the first time in a very, very long time, he had hope. That is, unless Cordelia was right, and this was somehow the reanimation of the woman whose life he took. He winced at the memory of her violent death, and of the events that had followed.

The tension in the room escalated back to the moment Cordelia and Gunn returned. All heads turned as they heard the large, heavy doors of the lobby open.

“Oh, my God” Cordelia’s heart plummeted.
**************

 


Chapter 12

“Riana, my child, have you the evidence that we require?”

The Romany clan was still a force to be reckoned with, their hierarchy still in place. Riana knew that she would have to convince the elders that the beast that had killed her twin sister was now an instrument of good. When she had first heard of her sister’s death, she wanted nothing but revenge. She had traveled to the States with that one purpose in mind. To kill the beast that had stolen her sister from her life. She began to follow him, watched and waited for her opportunity to rid this world of such an evil. Then, just as her sister had, she found what she had least expected: a soul, struggling for redemption – a soul that repeatedly fought the good fight. The revelation shook her to her core. She began to understand her sister’s need to remove the ‘curse’. She understood that the world needed his soul in place, and would be destroyed without it. With new purpose, she brought her case to the elders.

“Yes, I have countless examples where he has saved souls, helped the slayer, and now the almighty Powers-that-be. He has been given a Seer to stand by his side, and a team of warriors to aide him in the fight. It truly is my belief that he is an instrument of good, and that it is no longer our right to allow the possibility of Angelus. Our vengeance could only lead to a destruction this world has never seen.” She handed over the reports she had received from the ally she had met in the park earlier.

The Chief spoke with an authority that left all who heard, shaking in their boots “Very well, I will take that under advisement. We shall meet back here in one hour”

The relief Riana felt that the counsel was finally going to address her concerns was palpable. She breathed a sigh of relief – knowing that this was going to be the longest hour of her life. She knew that had they listened to her sister in the first place, Janna would be alive today. She needed to make this right before some other innocent lost their life as well. She was shaken from her musing as the counsel re-entered the chambers.

The Clan Chief, “I have made my decision” A collective breath was held within the chambers.

“It is only his desire to remain good that will allow him to keep his soul. It will be his triumph over the internal struggle that will keep the evil from walking among us. He must fight to keep his soul. A trial has been chosen that will bring upon the soul’s permanence, if he chooses the right path. I will grant him that, but this trial is one of spirit not easily overcome. He shall, this day forward be the bringer of his own fate. Only he will have the power to choose between heaven and hell. You say he has become an instrument of good, I hope you are right. I will not; however, excuse the pain and suffering he has brought upon us with a simple spell. If he can survive this trial and remain on the side of good, I will allow him to make his peace with his God. His soul will be permanent. I cannot believe that his fate is anything other than an eternity in the fiery pit of hell, but it is no longer for me to decide. Go child, bring forth this news.”
Chapter 13

“Oh my God” Cordelia’s heart plummeted at the sight of the woman before her. She backed up a few steps in a protective gesture to stand in front of Angel. Gunn and Wesley exchanged confused looks.

“That’s her!” Although obvious this was the woman from their previous discussion, Gunn felt compelled to point this out.

Cordelia was the first to take charge, “What are you doing here? How are you here? You need to leave. You can’t have him. You can’t have his soul. He is good now.”

“Cordelia” Angel was accustomed to this. One moment of good, followed by one moment of bad.

“No Angel, you are a good man” Cordelia was not going down without a fight.

“I know” the woman’s voice stilled the room.

“Excuse me?” Cordelia was the first to speak.

“I know he is a good man. I know he is a champion for the Powers that Be, and you his seer. I know that he is struggling for his redemption. That is why I am here.”

“What? What does that mean ‘That’s why I’m here’ and how do you know all that stuff, what are you now – a messenger boy for the powers?”

“Cordelia” Angel admonished.

“Oh, sorry, messenger girl.” Angel shot her a pleading look, only infuriating Cordelia more.

“Please, won’t you come in and sit down” Wesley was now the one to take charge.

“Thank you, and no, I am not a messenger girl for the Powers. I am Riana, Jenny Calender’s sister.”

Gunn leaned over and whispered to Wesley, “Who’s this Jenny Calender?”

“Shh, I’ll tell you later, just be prepared” Wesley’s attention was now on Riana, he had heard who Ms Calender was when he had first gotten to Sunnydale, so he knew that this could definitely end badly.

“For what?” oblivious to Wesley’s distraction, Gunn pressed on, and was promptly ignored.

“I won’t lie to you” Riana’s attention burned through Angel, “I came here to kill you”

Angel raised his hand, effectively halting his companions from their automatic fighting stances. “Let her continue” Although none of them relaxed, they did just that.

“I came to LA to get my revenge for the death of my sister. I knew you were strong and that it would not be easy, so, I hired a Private Investigator to log your every move – to discover your weaknesses. I went over those logs a hundred times, I wanted to find that one thing that would give me the edge – that would give me my revenge. To say I was surprised at what I found is an understatement. Then I remembered. Right before Janna was…killed…she came to our Uncle Enyos begging for your soul to be permanent. As you might have imagined, revenge is in our blood. This, to us, was just crazy talk. But the files I had gathered on you began to tell a different story. If not for the history of my tribe, and your place in it, I would have thought I was reading about the life of a man who was an instrument of good. A man the world needs to fight the evils that walk among it.”

“He is that man” Cordelia interrupted.

“I know that now. It wasn’t easy, but, I began to see what Janna had seen in him” she spoke quietly now, humbled by the revelation. “I began to see that Janna was right, and that our revenge was selfish – and dangerous.”

“You were right to want revenge” Angel was not ready to release himself from the horrors he had brought upon her tribe.

“Angel, listen to what she is saying. You are a good man, a champion that can…and has…saved the world” Cordelia had to convince him. She would not allow him to sink in to self-flagellation.

“Saved the world? Cordelia, so has Buffy, the Scoobies, you, Wes, and Gunn – in our world champions are a dime-a-dozen. What Angelus did…”

Cordelia was so angry at this point, she was seeing spots, “What Angelus did was leave a wake of death and destruction, the likes of which few others have rivaled. But you are not him” at his dejected look that she clearly didn’t understand who he was, she continued.

“No. You’re not him. I get that the demon is inside of you, a part of you – but it isn’t you.”

“Cordelia, you are just in denial…”

“No. I’m not! I get what that means. I get that it won’t take a ‘happiness clause’ to bring on Angelus. It is you, your strength and courage, and heart that keep him in his cage. Don’t you get that?” she finished at an unnaturally high fevered pitch.

“She is right, Angel. I get that now, which is why I brought your ‘case’ to the tribunal. I pleaded for the permanence of your soul.” Riana waited for this news to sink in before she continued.

“I approached the tribunal, I wanted them to see that the curse had its place at one time, but no more. I requested that your soul be permanent. They wouldn’t grant it.” At everyone’s disappointed look Riana quickly continued, “they wouldn’t grant the permanence of your soul but they did agree to remove the ‘happiness clause’. That is, if you passed the trial.”

“Trial? What trial?” Cordelia wasn’t sure how to take this news. She wanted to be happy for Angel, but this ‘trail’ made her nervous.

“They wouldn’t say. Just that one had been chosen. If he passes, the happiness clause will be removed, putting his fate in his own hands. Although, they did this believing that his fate was still an eternity in Hell.”

“So, basically what you are saying is that nothing has changed” They were in Wesley territory now and he was taking charge. “We know nothing of this trial, the when, where, or even what it entails. Did they at least hint at some sort of prophecy, perhaps, that we my look to for these answers?”

“No, that would have been too easy. I would have hoped you would be satisfied that I was able to accomplish at least that” Talk about an ungrateful bunch, Riana was beginning to think she had made a huge mistake.

“We are…I am…very grateful for what you have done. Although I’m not entirely convinced I deserve it. We will take care of this trial, when and if it comes. I promise, I will do everything in my power to not disappoint you…any of you.” He finished the last part staring into Cordelia’s eyes, willing her to understand that he meant it – and that he meant it particularly for her.

“I hope so Angel. I asked for this chance because I do believe it was right. However, if you fail, I am still a Romany, and I will kill you.” Riana silently prayed she would not have to follow through on that threat.

“You won’t have too, Angel will pass – I’ll see to that.” Cordelia never felt surer in her life that she could, and that she would, help him through this trail – at any cost to herself. She loved him too much not too.
**************
Dear diary

Angel said he loved me!!!! Oh my god! I have never felt so wonderful…and scared…in all my life. He said he loves me and I love him, I think, no, I know, I mean, it has to be. I have never felt like this before about another person, but I’ve never been in love before. How can I be sure that this is how it feels? You know this would be a good time for a mother or a best girlfriend to come in handy, too bad I don’t have either…oh wait, I do have a mother – fat lot that does for me. Bitter much? Yes! And I think I’m just a little entitled. Don’t you? Well? Aright, I get it – oh poor me – get it out of your system now. Nobody likes a sniveling whiny little crybaby – oh wait – yes they do, and they are called the Scoobies! OK, now I’m just being mean. So Buffy is a little whiny and everyone loves her – everyone except Angel that is, right? There I go again – stop it! He loves you; you love him – its very simple. Except that it isn’t – not when it comes to Angel. We have so many obstacles standing in our way. First there’s the Vampire thing – not so tuff, we’ve been dealing so far. On the bright side (hah! No pun intended!) He only drinks blood, which is good ‘cause I can’t cook. He can’t go out in the sun; I save on sunscreen. Besides, given our occupation, its all good. He can’t give me children but according to the doctors, the rebar incident probably made that a non-issue. So really the only thing standing in our way is Angelus. I admit that that frightens me, but according to the news we got today, that will be fixed soon. So the only thing I have to worry about is getting him through this ‘trial’ Riana told us about. What if he doesn’t pass it? Then what? NO – I will not think that way, there is too much at stake here. He will pass, if it’s the last thing I do, because in the end that is what is most important – that he keep his soul in tact. Ok, so it’s settled. I love him, he loves me, we get through this trial together to save his soul; and then we can start to build a life – together.

me


Chapter 14

Darla sat in the glow of the fireplace, eyeing the gift she had for Angelus. His birthday was always her favorite day, it always pushed her creativity beyond their usual debauchery, and this was no exception. He will be so pleased, young, nubile virgins were his greatest pleasures. It wasn’t long before he came sauntering through the door.

“There you are, my boy” she spoke in a low sultry voice, hiding her excitement of what was to come.

“Darla, what have we here? Is this for me?” This was their little game, mocking innocence.

“I don’t know, have you been a good boy?” she continued the charade.

“Well, why don’t I let you be the judge of that,” he leaned down and began to suck on her neck greedily.

“Oh, yes, but I know you can be better” she goaded him on.

“Baby, I’ll make sure to leave no doubt” he slammed her into the wall, while pawing at her ample breasts, and serving her lips to a beating of unbridled eagerness. She responded by taking hold of his long, thick shaft – bringing it instantly to new heights. They struggled to free each other of their bindings, all the while maintaining contact that would make the most sexually liberated blush. A muffled scream from Darla’s ‘gift’ finally drew their attention to the festivities that lay ahead.

“ANGEL” Cordelia thought that her screaming and banging on the door was enough to wake the dead, but apparently not. “ANGEL, I’ve had a vision, are you even in there?”

The sudden opening of the door gave Cordelia a start, “Why are you yelling, I heard you!” and Angel barking did nothing to calm her nerves.

“Angel, I have been knocking for five minutes now, is everything all right?” the concern in Cordelia’s voice served to calm the irate vampire…a little.

“I was sleeping, I’ll be down in a minute” Angel left no room for further discussion by slamming the door shut.
**************
“Angel, good of you to join us”

“I’m here Wesley, now what is so urgent you needed to wake me”

“Angel, it’s eight-thirty, were you planning to sleep the night away?”

“Just get to Cordy’s vision”

“Fine, oh cranky one – god, who pissed in your blood this mor – er – evening?” Something had been wrong with Angel since they had heard about the impending trial – she chalked it up to him being nervous, but now Cordelia wasn’t so sure.

“CORDELIA – the Vision!”

Wesley felt the tension in the room, but decided it was best just to press on, “Yes, Cordelia’s vision. There is a Kraklao demon…

Darla lay in the glow of the fireplace, fondling the gift she had for Angelus. His birthday was always her favorite day, it always pushed her creativity beyond their usual debauchery, and this was no exception. He will be so pleased, young, nubile virgins were his greatest pleasures. It wasn’t long before he came sauntering in the door.

“There you are, my boy – look what I have for you” she spoke in a low sultry voice, hiding her excitement of what was to come.

“Darla, you remembered my birthday, how touching” His voice gave little warning to the ‘gift’ of what lay ahead for her.

“You know I always do, come, let’s open your ‘gift’.” She taunted.

“Darla, I think you may have out done yourself. This could turn out to be the best thing I’ve ever gotten in all my years” he leaned down to show his appreciation, first to Darla, then his ‘gift’. He expertly paid attention to Darla’s assets, all the while breathing in the scent of…

“ANGEL! What the hell are you doing – are you smelling me? Wesley, he was smelling me; make him stop! What is your damage?” Cordelia was feeling uneasy with Angel’s behavior of late. It was making her nervous, and in Cordelia’s world, nervous meant defensive.

“Sorry, I was…sorry…what were we talking about?” Angel desperately needed to change the subject.

“The Kraklao demon from Cordelia’s vision. Angel, have you been listening to a word we’ve been saying? Or do you plan to run out of here only to get yourself killed because you weren’t paying attention.” Wesley was getting impatient himself by Angel’s odd behavior. He didn’t know Angel as well as Cordelia, but even he could tell that these were not very good signs.

“Yeah, of course, crush, maim, kill, behead…I get it, just tell me where” Angel’s experience with demons told him that that was a pretty safe guess.

“Yes, well, perhaps we should call Gunn to assist. I’m not convinced this is a one man, or Vampire as the case may be, job.” Wesley thought that having him ‘watched’ was probably a wise thing right now – no telling where this odd behavior was bound to lead.

“Wesley, I can handle it, just tell me when and where” Angel’s glare spoke volumes, Wesley relented, “Fine, tonight at approximately 10:30 the Kraklao demon is set to emerge from the sewers over on Wilshire and 10th. It must be dispensed before it attacks…”

“Got it, I’ll get the Kraklao, you all can go home.”

“Home? Angel…” Oh no, this is not happening. He was shutting her out.

“Goodnight Cordelia, see you in the morning”


Chapter 15

“Ok, it’s ‘see you in the morning’ – where the hell is he?” Cordelia was running on very little sleep, and she was still fuming over last night’s ‘dismissal’. Something was definitely happening with Angel and she was determined to get to the bottom of it, much to Wesley’s chagrin.

“Cordelia, I’m sure he will be down momentarily; why don’t you sit down and scan this book for me?”

“Sit down? SIT DOWN? Wesley, you were here last night, you know that something is definitely going on with him. Aren’t you the least bit concerned?”

“Of course I’m concerned, Cordelia, I just don’t think that it is any reason to overreact” as the words were leaving his mouth, he dearly wished he could stop them.

“OVERREACT? Are you saying I’m OVERREACTING? Wesley, he practically threw us out last night. He’s been acting all weird, he’s sleeping till the middle of the night, and still looks like he could use even more sleep. Wesley, I’m worried – something is seriously wrong here and I’m going to find out what.” She turned to climb the stairs to Angel’s bedroom when the basement door flung open, startling both Wesley and Cordelia.

“Angel, Cordy was about to go wake you, but I see you are already up. How did the fight with the Kraklao demon go? Is everything alright?”

“It went fine” Angel’s speech was clipped and distracted, worrying Cordelia even more. She followed him to her desk.

“Angel, what’s going on? Where have you been this early in the sunny morning? What are you looking for? Why do you need a phone book?” Cordelia’s questions were coming rapid fire, barely keeping up with the ones forming in her head.

“CORDELIA”

“ANGEL”

Seeing the frightened yet determined look on her face he softened, “I saw her; Darla, she’s alive”

“Darla?” Cordelia’s soft tone served to reveal the myriad of emotions she was feeling.

“Darla! Angel, if my information is correct, you killed her when you first got to Sunnydale. How is that possible?” Now Wesley was starting to understand Cordelia’s concern, he made a mental note to pay more attention to her, especially when it came to the Vampire.

“I did, but I saw her, last night. My guess is Vocah, and the rising at Wolfram and Hart. She must have been what they…rose. She said she wasn’t her, but I know it was – you don’t mistake someone you spent a hundred and fifty years with, she said her name was DeEtta Kramer.” Angel continued to look through the phone book.

“Angel, wait – let’s back up a minute here. Let’s say it is her…”

“It is”

“Ok, it’s her, what do you plan to do when you find her?” Cordelia was pulling all her reserves to remain calm and rational, after all, someone had to.

“Help her. I don’t know what’s going on, but when I got near her I felt it. She has a soul, I know what she is going through, and unlike me I won’t let her do it alone.”

“You are not alone” The hurt of his words shone through Cordelia like a beacon. Angel pleaded silently for her to understand, but she was not giving in – not on this.

Wanting to break the thick tension engulfing the room, Wesley decided to jump in with a plan, “Fine, after you locate the address, I will call Gunn and ask him to stake out the place, since it is in the middle of the day, and we will begin the research on this rising, see if we can’t discover Wolfram and Hart’s intentions. Then together we will formulate a plan, as a team.”

“Wesley, this is my prob…”

“No, Angel, what affects you affects us. There is no ‘I’. Why is that so hard for you to understand? Wesley is right, we are a team – you go – we go.”

“Cor, I can’t ask…”

“You didn’t ask, Wesley, call Gunn, here’s the address. Tell him to use the camera, it should still be in his truck – have him report back here at sundown. Angel, go find a book and occupy your self with something useful. I’ll start researching this property to see if Wolfram and Hart own it.”

“Cordelia, I don’t think it’s wise for you to get involved. Darla is my sire, I know what she is capable of and if Wolfram and Hart are involved it could only mean things are going from bad to worse. I don’t want any of you hurt…or…killed.” He never felt surer of his words. Ever since their ‘declaration’ his number one priority; over everything else, was Cordelia’s safety. Sure he was protective of her before, but now her safety was more than just her future – it was theirs, and the universe could not have offered a more precious gift.

“Angel, I am not having this discussion with you. Just press rewind and have it in your head. As soon as you are finished, and I’ve won…again…you can take one of these books and start researching this rising until Gunn shows up.” Cordelia was one second away from going ballistic. If he wanted to know stubborn, he was going to learn the hard way. ‘Go ahead, you want a battle of wills; I’ll make an apocalypse look like a blip on a screen. NO ONE is taking you away from me now.’

As if he read her mind, Angel decided to rethink his retort – deciding rather to just do as she suggested, “OK, we’ll research the ‘rising’ while Gunn gets info on DeEtta Kramer. We’ll decide the rest later, after Gunn gets here.”

“Good, let’s get to work…chop, chop!” Cordelia wasn’t stupid, she knew this was only a stall tactic on Angel’s part – but at least it gave her time to figure out what to do next.


Chapter 16

Darla slowly began to remove the bindings of the gift she had for Angelus. He will be so pleased, young, nubile virgins were his greatest pleasures. He quietly sauntered in the door, appreciating the sight before him.

“There you are, my boy – look what I have for you” she spoke in a low sultry voice, while caressing the soft dark hair of her gift.

“Darla, you remembered my birthday, how touching” He was quickly at Darla’s side, nuzzling her neck.

“You know I always do, come, let’s play with your ‘gift’.” She taunted.

He followed her gaze to the pulsing sculpture of virginity struggling to free herself, “Darla, I think you may have out done yourself. This could turn out to be the best thing I’ve ever gotten in all my years” he leaned in eagerly, his tongue exploring her plunging neckline as Darla began exploring his chest. Together they turned their attention to the young girl with a thirst in their eyes. Both Vampires began their descent to their new toy, intending to make three bodies mesh as one. Angelus growled as the girl successfully landed a kick to his left ankle…
“ANGEL”

Shaken from his ‘fantasy’, Angel glared at the offender with malice, “WHAT, Cordy; what’s with the kicking?”

“I’ve been trying to get your attention, you were obviously off somewhere else. I warn you – it better not have been with Darla, and if you were, we all better have been there!” She was taking every opportunity to let him know she was serious. He was not going off alone to get himself killed.

“Look, you have my attention. What is so important – have you found out what this rising is all about?” his words were angry, his impatience clear.

“Don’t get snippy with me mister. We are trying to help you here.” Cordelia wasn’t sure if she was getting angry or frightened, and she didn’t like either choice.

“I didn’t ask for your help if you recall”

“Fine, be that way – go, just GO! See if I care”

“I think that’s the smartest thing you’ve said in a long time. Maybe I will.”

“Maybe you should, because apparently nothing else matters except your skanky blonde-ho past!”

It was that moment that Gunn chose to walk through the front door.

“Oh thank god,” Wesley mumbled “Gunn, Please tell me you have something to report?”

“Hello to you too!” Gunn noticed the staring contest going on across the room between Angel and Cordelia and quickly realized Wesley’s need to get straight down to business, “I do have something, I think. Got there right away, just like you asked and waited a long time before a van finally drove up. I noticed a blanket running into the room so I waited for it to come out – figured it had to be a vamp. Well, lucky me, as soon as the sun went down, she came out.” Everyone gathered to see the picture on the camera screen.

“FUCK!”

“Oh no, Angel, I’m sorry – this is bad, this is really bad.” Cordelia recognized the woman in the picture right away as Drusilla, Angel’s childe.

“I’m too late. If Dru sired Darla, I only have till dawn. I find them in time I can stake them both. Maybe I can still stop this, whatever this is supposed to be. I’ve got to go.” Angel’s mind was reeling with this new information.

“Angel, you can’t, I won’t let you go alone.” He was on Cordelia’s last nerve now.

“LET me? LET ME? Cordelia, do I need to remind you who is boss here?” Angel was not going to let her anywhere near Darla or Dru.

“Boss? You are going to play that card? No, Angel – this has gone way beyond that.” Cordelia stood sure of herself that he was not getting away with this.

“You know what – I don’t need this, any of it. You don’t like that I’m the boss? Then fine. You’re fired, all of you. Have all your stuff cleared out before I return.” Angel grabbed his duster and left.

The audible sound of Cordelia’s last nerve snapping could be heard throughout LA.


Chapter 17

“No he didn’t – that dawg did not just fire us” Gunn knew he had walked in on something, but this…

“Actually, I believe he did. I believe we have just been sacked.” Wesley was fighting denial; he did not want to relive this part of his past.

“Yeah, but he’s paying me for tonight, right? I did not just sit in my truck for five hours just to be kicked to the curb by his dead ass. That ungrateful bastard is paying me for tonight, right?”

“Gunn, I honestly couldn’t tell you, I really don’t know what to think right now.”

“He better pay me, if he knows what’s good for him”

“Gunn, I’m sure he’ll pay you, I’m sure he didn’t mean it. He’s just upset…”

“He meant it, and with any luck he’ll meet up with the fanged duo and they’ll stake him.” The hurt Cordelia felt was bleeding through her words.

“Cordy…” Wes was drawn from his own misery hearing her speak. He mentally kicked himself for not realizing what this was doing to his friend.

“Don’t Cordy me, Gunn, there are some boxes downstairs, can you get them for us? Wes, start packing what books you think we are going to need.” She was becoming take charge Cordy; the time for hurt would come later – when she was alone…again.

“Need? Need for what?”

“Wesley, Asshole may have fired us, but I’m pretty sure the Powers didn’t. Please, pack some books, we’ll bring them over to my place.” Wesley smiled at her bravado and quickly went to work grabbing any and all books they would need.
**************
“You know what – I don’t need this, any of it. You don’t like that I’m the boss? Then fine. You’re fired, all of you. Have all your stuff cleared out before I return.”

Angel hated that he had to do that, but he knew there was no other way. He knew, as sure as the sun was going to rise, that his friends…no, family…were going to willingly put themselves in harms way. Sure, they basically did that every day working for him, but that was as much for helping the helpless as it was for his redemption. This was very different. This was the one part of his past that he needed to handle alone; this was the one thing that he was not willing to let them put their life on the line for. He knew, to succeed at defeating Darla and Dru, he would have to reach deep inside himself for that dark part of his soul, his demon, that he fought against daily. He did not want Cordelia any where near that. He only wished she understood. He steeled himself away from those thoughts. The sooner he got this over with, the sooner he could have Cordelia in his life, permanently. That is, if he didn’t do too much damage to their relationship. He remembered her diary entries concerning her parents – how they had abandoned her, and how seemingly easy she had written them out of her life. Oh, he understood clearly that it was a defense mechanism, but he had gotten to know her well enough to know that her defense mechanisms were nearly impenetrable. He would have to deal with that later, right now he had his own mission, and that mission was going to get much darker before he rid himself of this chapter in his life. Yes, he made the right decision; he would handle this alone, keeping his family from harm. He prayed to any god that might be listening that when it was done, he still had a family to return to.
**************
Dear diary,

I am so tired, and hurt, and angry, and…alone. I can’t do this anymore. I don’t know who I can trust, who I can depend on. Somebody please tell me what is so wrong with me that everyone leaves, or kicks me out. That’s right, Angel fired me today – kicked me right out of his life. I am trying to be a good person, I help the helpless, I’m good to my new family – at least I think I am. But it’s not enough. I still have no place to belong. I thought Angel loved me, I really did. I was so wrong. Maybe if I was stronger, or nicer, or…god, I don’t even know anymore. I have nothing left, I can’t keep being strong for everyone, I need someone to be strong for me. What did I do that was so horrible that I keep being punished like this? Am I asking too much – is it really too much to want to feel safe and loved? I give up. I just don’t know what else to do. I told Wes and Gunn to set up shop here, but I’m not so sure I have it in me anymore. There are only so many times a girl can get knocked down and still be expected to get back up again. Oh god, why does this hurt so much?

me
**************
“Riana, thank you for coming,”

“Of course, it is my honor and privilege to be in your presence” Riana was very nervous being called before the clan chief so soon after her plea to rid Angel of his ‘happiness clause’.

“Perhaps, but you may not think so after you hear what it is I have to say. In regards to your ‘Angel’ – it has gotten back to me that although the trial has barely begun, he has already discarded the humans he calls friends. This does not bode well as to the outcome. I hope you are prepared to follow through on your promise. If Angelus is to appear, you are to kill him.”

“Yes, I am prepared to do just that – as promised.”


Chapter 18

Darla lay naked beside the gift she had for Angelus. He will be so pleased, young, nubile virgins were his greatest pleasures. He quietly sauntered in the door, his demon responding immediately to the smell of lust and fear that filled the room.

“There you are, my boy – look what I have for you” she spoke in a low sultry voice, while caressing the soft dark hair of her gift.

“Darla, you remembered my birthday, how touching” He was quickly at Darla’s side, his clothes still at the door.

“You know I always do, come, let’s play with your ‘gift’.” She taunted.

He followed her gaze to the pulsing sculpture of virginity struggling to free herself, “Darla, I think you may have out done yourself. This could turn out to be the best thing I’ve ever gotten in all my years” he leaned in eagerly, his tongue exploring her plunging neckline as Darla began exploring his chest. Together they turned their attention to the young girl with a thirst in their eyes. Both Vampires began their descent to their new toy, moves orchestrated over years of practice. The ‘gift’ began to stir as she felt the vampires’ hands removing her clothing. Soft lips caressed her throat and stronger ones began to explore lower regions. Her body unwillingly responded as a heat began to build within her chest and spread throughout. She tried to resist but her body was betraying her. A strong calloused hand settled between her thighs as smaller ones teased her nipples. None could shake the constant ringing that was building in their ears….

RINNNGGG

“Angel Investigations, we help the hopeless…”

“Damn machine!” Angel was jolted awake at the sound of Cordy’s voice, the events of last night slamming in to him full force. He had fired his…family, effectively removing them from harms way, and gone out in search of Dru and a newly sired Darla. It wasn’t long before he had picked up on their trail of murder and mayhem – telling him that he was too late to stop Darla’s ‘rebirth’. He began to rethink his decision of the firing. An ‘alive’ Darla and Dru meant that his family was still in danger, and now they were on their own. If he had been less impulsive he would at least have them near, making it easier to protect them. The time for rethinking bad decisions was over; he needed to prepare himself for what was ahead. He needed to concentrate on destroying his sire and childe. With myopic focus he descended the stairs to the basement and began the mind and body training he would need to emerge victorious and get his family back.
*************
None could shake the constant ringing that was building in their ears….

RINNGGG

Cordelia was shaken from her dream by the ringing of her phone, struggling to reach it before the person hung up, she was grateful to Dennis for the save.

“Angel?”

“Cordy?”

“Wes?”

“Yes, I’m sorry to disappoint…”

“No, Wes, don’t be silly. I was just…dreaming…um, you almost got the whole spiel before I realized I wasn’t in work, that I’m not going to be in work.” She finished on a low note, hoping that the excuse she gave would cover her slip.

“Cordy, I’m so sorry, I know that this is very difficult for you.” Wesley was feeling particularly protective of her after the events of last night. He was glad he called to check on her, by her tone, she wasn’t at all doing well.

“Wes, stop, it’s hard on all of us. I mean, after everything we’ve done for him, how dare he just throw us out like that?” she so desperately wanted a pity party table for one, but she couldn’t let down her family, she couldn’t be Angel.

Wes couldn’t help the smile on his face; Cordelia had truly grown in to a wonderful, caring woman. He marveled at the spirit and courage she showed for one so young. He wished he had spent more time getting to know her – the real her – back in Sunnydale. “Cordy, I think history dictates that your role was far more…”

“History, shmistory – Wes, why don’t you call Gunn, see how he’s doing, then you can both come over here so we can figure out what to do next.” She was not going to pay homage to her hurt in any way – nor would she let anyone else.

“Jolly good” reverting back to his stoic self.

“Jolly good? Wes, it hasn’t been that long and already you are turning in to stodgy old Giles? Call Gunn, come over…and bring tubs of ice cream, before its too late!” she’d get him out of this mood, well, either her or Ben and Jerry.

“As you command my dear lady.” He was already feeling lighter.

“That’s right! And don’t you forget it!”

“Doubtful I could, see you in a bit. Thank you Cordy” He called to cheer her up, and within a matter of seconds he found the tables turned, god, he admired this woman.

“You’re welcome…and Wes, I love you too.”


Chapter 19

Much of the afternoon had gone well. Wes called Gunn as promised, and both came over armed with the pre-requisite junk food. The three friends talked well in to the night over everything and anything…especially, what to do next. Although none could agree on a name for the new agency, all were agreed that they would continue working for the Powers, Angel or no. It wasn’t until close to midnight that the boys finally left. Cordelia loved them both, needed them around, and was very happy about the new agency, but she needed some time alone too. She needed some time to process the last two weeks…and the dream.

She couldn’t shake the uneasy feeling that she had been used – nor the nagging in the back of her mind that she wasn’t. This was not making any sense. She thought back to the dream Wesley had woken her up from this morning. She, tied up on the floor before a fireplace in very old looking clothes…Darla…ewww…she wasn’t ready for that yet…and…Angelus, that’s what Darla called him, Angelus. What was this dream trying to tell her? Darla = Angelus? Duh! Then what was she doing in the dream? Was it to see, and then tell him? Well that wasn’t going to happen any time soon.

“Yeah, I go over there and there is going to be one ugly scene.”

But if she didn’t…no she wasn’t going to think about that right now. He made his choice. He was going to have to live with it. The problem was…could she?
**************
It seemed like days since he had fired his crew. He had spent most of the day brooding, that’s what Cordelia called it. Cordelia, god he loved her, loved her too much to subject her to what he needed to do. He needed to be strong, he couldn’t let stray thoughts of the woman he loved get in the way. He needed to prepare, he needed to bring himself to a level that could destroy Darla and Wolfram and Hart. He needed to bring the fight to them, and he knew; to do that was dangerous. It was dangerous for Darla, Wolfram and Hart, his family…and his soul.

Journal Entry 16 Jan 2001

My dearest Cordelia,

If you are reading this, it is because I am no longer on this plane. I hope for your sake that my death was at the hands of Darla or Wolfram and Hart, and that you did not have to keep your promise to rid this world of the evils of Angelus. You are a strong woman Cordy, if it is your hand that eliminated Angelus, know that I am very proud of you, and that I never doubted that you would do the right thing, as hard as it may have been, and I couldn’t love you more than I do right now. Do not blame yourself, you had no other choice, I gave you no other choice. I hope that one day you will stop being angry with me for putting you in that position and remember that I loved you, more than I have ever loved before.

As I sit here, about to prepare for the toughest fight of my existence, I am remembering. I am remembering a young girl who boasted more strength than she possessed, a strength she not only grew in to; but surpassed with a grace and style I only hoped to live up to. I remember our days in Sunnydale with a tinge of regret that I didn’t take the time to know you better. The only solace is that in the end, the fates saw clear to right that wrong and bring us together here in LA. When I look at it that way, I do not regret a thing. The journey could have taken twice as long and it would have been worth it, if it brought me to you.

I want you to know that the time we spent together was…was when I finally started to live, and it is you for whom I will be eternally grateful. You have a special gift, Cordelia; behind those walls of yours is a tender soul, capable of amazing things. Always remember that. I only hoped that one day I would be worthy of a love as great as yours. I never stopped trying, please believe that. That is what I am doing now. I cannot expect you to accept me into your life when mine remains a threat. I cannot ask you to put your life on the line by loving me. It is too precious a gift to loose. Please share that gift, Cordy, don’t let anything that I have done stop you from living. I know that me firing you hurt, and that it left you doubtful of yourself. That was not it at all, it was because I loved you so much that I had to protect you, the only way I knew how. If you are reading this, then perhaps that was the biggest mistake of my life, or unlife as you like to say, but it is a mistake I would make again to keep you alive and well. I am in a dark and lonely place right now. I feel the struggle for my soul, for my sanity. It is a place I need to be, and I would move heaven and hell to keep it from ever touching you. That is why I’ve done what I’ve done. I hope one day you will understand and forgive.

I leave you sadly, with this final thought: I truly never understood the meaning of love until you came into my life. Know that when I died, it was with one thought on my mind, and it was of you, and that there was one thing in my heart, our love. Yes, Cordelia Marie Chase, I loved you more than words could express. Be comforted, Cordy, for I know that with you in my heart I am that much closer to a better place in this afterlife.

My love eternally,
A

With that done and on paper, he could now move on to the issues keeping him from his family. He silently prayed to any god that would listen that she would never have to read this and that one day soon he would be able to speak these words to her, while nestled comfortably in her bosom, stroking gently…he physically shook himself from the direction these thoughts were taking him, he needed to focus, and unfortunately not on Cordelia.
*****************
“Angelcakes! What brings you here?” There was no denying; The Host was one of a kind.

“I need help”

“I’m fine; thanks for asking”

“…”

“Well, as you can see, business is booming. Amazing how a little stress sends everyone to the bar.”

“Stress? Do you know something? I see lots of lawyers.” Angel took a quick scan of the room noticing the unusual ratio of humans versus demons

“I can’t tell you anything that I’ve read, you know that” The Host was beginning to get a little nervous with the myopic determination displayed by the Vampire, and shaken that the leather pants did nothing to calm his nerves. This was serious; anything he said now was going to determine the direction Angel was going to take toward his revenge. He needed to choose his words carefully.

“You have information that I need. Tell me.” Angel’s scowl was becoming a permanent fixture. Would he ever be able to smile again?

“Alright, alright, I can tell you what I overheard in the men’s room. Everyone is nervous about the visit of one of the Senior Partners, and with good reason. A Senior Partner only comes once every 75 years. That and everyone wants you dead.” Maybe that last bit would throw him off a bit…one could hope.

“How do I find this Senior Partner, where is he going to be?”

Damn, he didn’t even flinch, someone wanted me dead, I’d flinch. “Meeting on the top floor, next Friday. That’s all – don’t ask me for anything else.” Please don’t ask me anything else.

“Thank you.” Now Angel had a goal. Meeting with the Senior Partner. Now if he could only make sure his family could make it through the next week and a half, this will all be over.


Chapter 20

It had been three days since the new ‘Angel Investigations’ had gone in to business. Although excited about the new adventure, the three sat quietly in the dark new office Cordelia had found for them. Dark because there was no electricity, this was not starting off well at all.

“Well, now what?” Cordelia was getting antsy, she needed something take her focus off of the bastard she used to call friend. That and the lack of sleep due to very disturbing dreams and she was about ready to loose it.

“Well how the hell am I supposed to know, you got the place, did you think to maybe get some electricity?” Wes didn’t want to take his frustration out on Cordy, he was brought up better than that, but somehow with her it was safe. He was learning the true meaning of family and friendship more and more every day. Things may suck right now, but for him, it was still better than anything he knew before becoming a part of these people’s lives.

“Hey, I didn’t see either of you get off your butts and find a place, be grateful you got this much mister! And I did think to get electricity mister smarty pants…we just…couldn’t afford it until next week.” Cordelia finished her speech addressing the floor, rather than her friends; she hated admitting that the glass seemed half empty – it just wasn’t her style – not when it meant this much.

“Pray tell, what happens next week?” Wesley noticed her stress, but chose to ignore it. If he had learned anything about this woman, it was when, and when not to, indulge her emotionally.

“Hopefully Barbie here gets a vision, what do ya say, feel anything coming?” Gunn was no slouch either; he knew she needed to be pulled out of this funk. Granted, she was in good company there with he and Wes, but wallowing wasn’t going to help any of them.

“It doesn’t work that way, dumbass” There’s that spark, it had long been established, Cordelia’s mood tended to dictate the mood of the day…for everyone!

“How about if I hit you on the head, will that help?” That’s right, me a man, fight demons, not scared of you…much…Gunn bit back the chuckle that threatened to escape.

“Don’t you dare!…” Cordelia’s glare only made it that much harder for Gunn to keep his composure.

“Excuse me, are we interrupting something? Virginia said you could help us.” No one heard the bell above the door, too busy with their playful banter. They jumped to attention at the woman and her daughter who suddenly appeared in their office.

“No, no please, do come in. I assure you, Virginia was quite correct. Whatever your problem, we are here to help.” Wesley ushered mother and daughter further in to the office, determined to help…and not let them get away.

“Thank you” The woman was clearly very nervous, her daughter nearly motionless.

“Sure, what seems to be the…ohhh…is that an…” ewwwww

“Yes, Cordelia, how very astute. Now that we’ve established the problem, I assure you, a little research and we will have an answer for you post haste. Can you describe the demon?” Wesley was finally in his element now.

After a quick, but thorough explanation, the woman and her daughter left the team to their research. Well, actually, by team it was only Wes and Cordy, Gunn was doing everything in his power to look otherwise busy. After lighting all the candles, and rearranging them to provide the best light to read by, and sharpening his axe for what had to be the hundredth time, he was disproportionately grateful to see his friend Anne come in to the office.

“Hey girl! Wassup? How’s things down in the hood?”

“Gunn, glad to see how…the place looks…nice” Anne was doing her best not to comment on the lack of light, Gunn was doing right by himself and she was determined to be supportive.

“Yeah, thanks, Cordy did good.” He may have been teasing her before, but he really did think she did good.

“The candles are a nice touch, makes the place seem more welcoming, especially for people who come to you with, what they come to you for.” She could see the ‘bright’ side of almost anything, that’s what made her the perfect person to run a shelter for troubled teens; Gunn always admired her for that.

“Thanks, but I’m guessing you didn’t come down here for that. Have you met Cordy and Wes?” Gunn was by no means naive, if she left the shelter to see him; it wasn’t a social call.

“No, I haven’t, nice to meet you both. You’re right, I do have something to talk to you about.” She was unsure how much see could trust Gunn’s new friends, how much she should say in front of them – it was going to have to be Gunn’s decision how much about his ‘life’ they were going to discuss in front of them.

As if reading her mind, “It’s OK. They know the deal.”

“Oh, well, OK. There is something going down, it seems that the police are harassing, and in some cases, punishing, anyone found outside after dark. I’ve heard this from more than just the kids, so I have to think there’s something going on that just isn’t right.” It was common for her kids to come in complaining about the cops, but usually there was a good reason for them to be harassed, now it seemed as though this time they weren’t just exaggerating.

“Really, so it comes from more than just the kids? Maybe I should go back with you to check things out.” Gunn was more than happy to jump at the chance to get out of research, but more than that, if Anne took the trouble to come all the way down to the office, there might be a good reason for him check things out. She was good people, and if she was in trouble, then he was going to be there for her.

“Yeah, right, you just want to get out of researching” Cordelia teased.

“No – that’s not it at all” Gunn jumped, Damn, how does that woman read my mind?

“Gunn, I’m teasing! Go, just be careful…and CALL” Cordy knew it wasn’t just about cutting out on them, hell, if she could come up with a legitimate excuse, she would too.

“Alright ma, I’ll call, as soon as I find out what’s the what.” Gunn smiled, grateful his friends understood; he made a display of checking his pocket for his cell phone before leaving with Anne.


Chapter 21

Darla lay naked beside the gift she had for Angelus. He will be so pleased, young, nubile virgins were his greatest pleasures. He quietly sauntered in the door, his demon responding immediately to the smell of lust and fear that filled the room.

“There you are, my boy – look what I have for you” she spoke in a low sultry voice, while caressing the soft dark hair of her gift.

“Darla, you remembered my birthday, how touching” He was quickly at Darla’s side, his clothes still at the door.

“You know I always do, come, let’s play with your ‘gift’.” She taunted.

He followed her gaze to the pulsing sculpture of virginity struggling to free herself, “Darla, I think you may have out done yourself. This could turn out to be the best thing I’ve ever gotten in all my years” he leaned in eagerly, his tongue exploring her plunging neckline as Darla began exploring his chest. Together they turned their attention to the young girl with a thirst in their eyes. Both Vampires began their descent to their new toy, moves orchestrated over years of practice. The ‘gift’ began to stir as she felt the vampires’ hands removing her clothing. Soft lips caressed her throat and stronger ones began to explore lower regions. Her body unwillingly responded as a heat began to build within her chest and spread throughout. She tried to resist but her body was betraying her. A strong calloused hand settled between her thighs as smaller ones teased her nipples. As soft lips began to brush against her own, and stronger ones began their decent to her folds, she began to buck in a primal rhythm matching that of the demons intending on making her their souvenir of a night of passion and pleasure.

With hands tied behind her back and a blindfold securely in place, the young girl tried valiantly to ward off the advances of the demons that hovered above her. With her body responding to the now tender touches in places the vampires had discovered as her most vulnerable, she began to feel more and more helpless to the fate that lied ahead. It was her instinct to fight for her life, but this, this was throwing her whole being in to a firestorm of emotions. Without warning, the ministrations stopped, throwing her further into a fear like she had never known. Then the shouting began.

“You whore, you bring me a gift, only to take it as your own? What punishment shall I give you for such a betrayal…this? The young girl heard flesh slapping flesh, and the erotic howling of the female demon, she shook, is this what was in store for her as well? The howling and pounding continued into a fevered pitch, both demons seemingly forgetting her. She took that opportunity to remove the blindfold, rubbing furiously against the hardwood floor. It was then that the room froze – deathlike, as two pairs of eyes locked, both telling a different story, both longing for the other to understand.

Angelus turned to stone, a catlike stillness studying its prey. He turned slightly, taking in the sight of his sire…a woman with a sexual prowess he had never known before…before now. This truly was to be his greatest birthday, his only dilemma, which gift to open first…

Cordelia jumped, nearly falling from the waiting room chair she obviously had just fallen asleep in. She felt the lingering emotions of the dream she was having, unable to control her shaking hands. She desperately hoped Gunn hadn’t noticed, but how could he not? She couldn’t help but feel like she had just walked in to her final exams naked…what was going on? She should be concerned with Wesley, after all, he was the reason they were in this waiting room in the first place. A man she felt close enough to, to be considered a brother, was lying on an operating room table having a bullet, lodged by demon police, removed from his stomach. She felt like she was betraying him, allowing herself to be concerned with Angel when it was Wes she should be thinking about. She didn’t have much time to mentally berate herself before the doctor approached. Both she and Gunn jumped to their feet.

“Are you here for Mr. Pryce?” The doctor knew by the concern coming off in waves that he had just asked a rhetorical question.

“How is he?” “Is he going to be OK?” “When can we take him home?”

The doctor raised his hand to stop the onslaught of questions; “He made it through just fine. I would like to keep him here for at least 48 hours before I make any decisions on when he can return home.”

“48 hours? That long? You said he was fine!” Cordelia hated hospitals, and it did not bode well in her mind that the doctor would not tell them when he could go home.

“That is standard for a wound of this nature, don’t worry, from the way he pulled through, I am confident in his prognosis. I just want to monitor his vitals, and strengthen him to ward off any infection that could settle if not taken care of promptly. Whoever took care of him before you got him here did a fine job of keeping this from becoming a tragedy.” Seeing the extent of the bleeding, and knowing how long it took to get him to the hospital had the doctor initially fearing the worst, whoever took care of him did so with a care and expertise uncommon amongst the general public.

“That’s our Cordy, she’s got a knack for keeping us…healthy” Gunn hesitated, realizing he didn’t want to reveal too much of the nature of their lives.

“Well, young lady, you are to be commended – and you sir are a very lucky man. You’re friend will be brought to a room shortly, I’ll have the nurse come get you as soon as he is settled.”

“Thanks, doc” Gunn took hold of Cordelia’s shoulders, neither were big on the demonstrative thing, but he sensed that she needed this hug as much as he, he was right.

“Oh, god, Gunn. What are we doing here? Wes almost died tonight! We can’t keep doing this…I can’t…”

“Hey, hey, relax. I got your back, you heard the doctor, he’s going to be fine. We got through this, Everything’s going to be fine.” Gunn found it difficult to speak these words through his own doubt, how did she always manage it?

“No, Gunn. It isn’t. We are in way over our heads here. I can’t do this, if I loose either of you…” she hiccupped a breath, unable to finish her sentence.

Gunn grabbed her firmly by her shoulders, a determination he barely had hold of himself, “Stop. Look at me. I will not lose either of you; I won’t let that happen. I’ve been down that road, and I’ve got to tell you, I didn’t like it and I won’t…you hear me?…WON’T go through that again, not while there is still a breath left in my body. Cordy, you said yourself, we know what’s out there, you more than anyone, can you really turn your back on that and still be able to live with yourself?”

“If it will keep both of you alive…”

“Cordy, you don’t mean that, I mean, I know you mean that, just not like that, I mean…aarrggghh” Gunn hid his face in his hands in frustration, this was much harder than he expected. Unfortunately, this conversation was going to have to wait as a nurse appeared to bring them to Wes’ room.
*****************
Angel woke with a start, the dreams were getting more and more intense, and he couldn’t figure out what they were trying to tell him. He tried to go over the dream from the beginning, but it only served to frustrate him more. Cordy was the one who was good at putting things in to perspective, and she wasn’t here to help him. He was shaken from his reverie by the ringing of the phone.

“Angel?” Kate, he was in no mood for her and her recriminations right now, what he needed was his family.

“Kate…” he was unceremoniously cut off.

“Angel, I just got a report in from the district we ‘saved’ from those…policeman. There was a shooting and I recognized the name. Isn’t Wesley Wyndam-Pryce a friend of yours?” she was met with a silence, followed by a dial tone.
****************
It didn’t take long for Angel to find the right hospital, as he walked to Wesley’s room, he paused, noticing immediately the absence of Cordelia. His mind went in to overdrive trying to figure out what could possibly keep her from being at Wesley’s side. Should he have waited for Kate to finish what she was saying? At least then he would be prepared; now, he was beginning to panic. His thoughts were interrupted when her scent assaulted him from behind. He turned slowly.

“What are you doing here? What it takes a gunshot wound for you to give a fuck?” The events of the day, the dream, her fears and insecurities were rolling off her in waves of anger, all directed at the Vampire.

“I was told that Wesley was hurt, I came to see how he was doing.” He couldn’t help but stagger from the force of her words.

“Well, let me allay your fears, he’s fine, he doesn’t need you…WE don’t need you. I think you should leave. Leave now, get out of my sight…out of my life…once and for all.” Head held high, she pushed aside the Vampire and walked bravely into what she was sure to be her new life.

Still staggering from the sting of her words and the force of her shoving him aside, Angel left the hospital feeling an all consuming hollowness, losing his last hold on his humanity.


Chapter 22

It had been a few days since the Confrontation in the hospital, Wesley was not only OK enough to go home, he was also in the office. Things were starting to move forward, Cordelia was working at putting the nightmare that brought her to the present, behind her. Then without warning, everything changed once again as Angel barged in to the office.

“Angel, what are you doing here?” the venom in her voice was clear; Cordelia was not prepared to see him again with company present.

“You have a book I need. You took all the books.” He shoved her brutally aside and descended on the bookshelf. His time was running out, the meeting with the Senior Partner was a few hours away.

Wesley stood, “Cordy, give him the book,” he felt the intensity in the room, and knew he could do nothing if it were to escalate.

Not to be conquered, Cordelia shoved him back while pushing the offending book at his chest, “I don’t know what you are anymore.”

He raised his hands, effectively trapping her at the bookcase. “Salty goodness” he silkily replied. Leaning forward, he expertly caressed her cheek with his tongue. Satisfied with her obvious arousal, he pushed off the bookcase, book in hand, and strutted out of the offices of ‘Angfl’ Investigations – tossing over his shoulder as he reached the door, the words that would damn him.

“Look it up”.

Every cell in her body seized, knowing immediately what he meant. She had felt a little silly over her “Episode of the Lost Diary” after finding it under the front seat of her car while packing for LA. She remembered kicking herself for not having thought to look there in the first place. But now, the memories overwhelming her were the ones of fear, helplessness, and the paralyzing feeling of violation that someone had her secrets. It wasn’t until she heard Wesley shout her name for the third time that she was drawn out of her catatonia.

“Cordelia! Please! Can you call an ambulance?”

The sight of Wesley’s blood spurred her next actions. Mechanically, she dialed 911, then Gunn. With a voice that could freeze fire, she told him that Wesley had reopened his wound and that he should meet them at the hospital.

The arrival of the ambulance and the ride to the hospital were all a blur to her. Little explosions of anger and betrayal were pulsating throughout her body. He had her diary. He READ her diary. How DARE he. How DARE he invade her innermost secrets! She began to go over the last year-and-a-half of her life, while remembering what was in that diary. Oh my god! He knew she was having…those thoughts about him, yet he still discarded her. Not once, but twice! He knew that her parents had left her, and she was alone to fend for herself, so what, the job was a pity job? Cordelia took pity from NOBODY! It all started to become clear in her mind. He knew what she thought of his precious Buffy, that she thought of him as a lapdog. He did this on purpose! He took her in, made her trust him, love him, only to throw her out on her ass! Well, buddy, so proud that your payback was a bitch, wait till you find out that revenge is a mother fu…

It was that moment that Gunn interrupted her thoughts, “Wesley’s all stitched back up, you two want to go home?”

“Huh? Home? Yeah, home, thank you”

“Barb…Cordelia, are you OK? He just popped some stitches, he’s going to be fine” Gunn was concerned by her distraction; mistakenly thinking it was about Wesley’s newest medical drama.

“Huh? Oh, yeah, I know. He’s a strong one. I know he’ll be fine. I guess this is all just getting to me. I think what I need is just a good night’s sleep”

Gunn noticed that her smile didn’t quite reach her eyes, but he decided it was best not to press on. She was a lot like him in that way. Troubles got you down, just take care of business and move on. He admired her for that. But he couldn’t help but feel sadness that she felt she had to go through whatever this was alone. She had done so much to help him, and he wanted to return the favor. He just didn’t know how – that was her department. So, with no other recourse, he left to get his truck.


Chapter 23

Angel entered the dark and dusty hotel broken and exhausted. He slowly ascended the stairs to his room, defeated. He had succeeded in destroying the ‘Senior Partner’ but found no solace in having done a deed that should have effectively taken out a potentially world ending evil. He found no solace because as Holland Manners, (a lawyer killed during a particularly brutal death-fest hosted by he and the evil demon twins) pointed out – the fight was far from over. He thought for sure when Harlan offered him a one-way visit to the ‘Home Office’ that he would finally get a chance to face, and destroy, the ‘Partners’ who manipulated his world on a daily basis – a chance to tip the scales of balance between good vs evil – a chance to have made a difference, to have found a purpose for his existence.

When the elevator doors that were to bring him to his destination opened, and he saw his world unchanged and displayed before him, he realized that there was no fighting it. It is what it is and there is no changing it, he spent a century and a half destroying lives, then picked up the sword for the other side, only to destroy that world with actions worse than Angelus was ever capable of…hope and love. He pictured Cordelia’s face that day in the hospital when she struck him so forcibly with her words for him to get out of her life. He saw the pain and the hurt and the fear…emotions intoxicating to Angelus, sickening to Angel. He imagined how much better her life would have been had she not had the misfortune of ever crossing his path. He was distracted from his thoughts as a familiar presence entered his room.

“Darla, can’t say I’m surprised” he spoke without emotion.

“My, boy, you seem down. Tell me, what can I do to change that?” she walked softly to him, her tiny hands nearly getting lost in the expanse of his broad, firm chest. She sat carefully on to his lap.

“Darla, I know what you’re doing, but I’m not in the mood for this.” He betrayed his words by taking a tender hold of her tiny waist.

“Oh, give me a little time…you will be…you remember the good times, I can see it in your eyes – the eyes, Angelus, they never lie” she finished her sentence whispering gently into his ear, causing an all too familiar electricity. Oh she knew her boy well, she knew his every button and she was just getting started.

“Darla, you are going to have to do better than that, still thinking of better things I could be doing, better beds I could be sharing” his words brushed her lips as the game they had mastered over decades of debauchery had begun.

She responded by grabbing his hard shaft, paying homage to its authority. He quickly began to shed his outer skin, eager to expose her to the only vulnerability he knew her to have. As two bodies began to merge they quickly made their way to his bed. With the fierceness of the animal he was becoming, he threw her hard on to the mattress, causing a delighted chuckle from Darla.

“Oh, you think this is funny? You think you’ve won? Well, I guess daddy is going to have to teach you a lesson”, he flipped her over carelessly and launched his tortuous assault on to her prone body. With hands that had killed hundreds in his time, he began to leave red, angry marks on every inch of her exposed skin. Darla bucked and growled, contributing gleefully to their game.

“Oh, no sir, please, I’ll be good. Let me show you. Let me prove how good I can be, please” Angel’s pleasure jumped to new heights, there was much to be said about tasting danger.

“Oh, you think so little girl, then prove it, show daddy why you shouldn’t be punished anymore”

Darla responded by skillfully flipping him on to his back and taking him completely into her mouth in one fluid motion. The sudden change in roles left Angel gasping for unneeded breath. He shut his eyes tightly as he grabbed hold of her hair, orchestrating her rhythm. As he released his seed in to her mouth he pulled her to his lips, longing to share the taste of their reunion. She smiled as she swallowed, knowing she had accomplished her goal, she had brought him over to the dark side.

“There’s my boy, I’ve missed you so.” Angel stared hungrily into her hazel eyes. “Let’s make up for lost time.” Angel blinked, mesmerized by her now icy blue stare.

“Angelus, you seem distracted, is there anything I can do to get you back in the game?” Angel shoved her off him, startling both by his sudden actions.

“There you are, my boy”

“You whore, you bring me a gift, only to take it as your own? What punishment shall I give you for such a betrayal…this?”

“I can see it in your eyes – the eyes, Angelus, they never lie…”

“There’s my boy, I’ve missed you so.” … Hazel eyes. “Let’s make up for lost time.” … Icy blue stare.

“Angelus, I’ve never known you to be so easy. Don’t worry, the pain will pass, and then we can be together, the way its supposed be.” She could hardly contain her delight.

“I can see it in your eyes – the eyes, Angelus, they never lie…” The eyes, the gift, soft hazel eyes… Cordelia …the dream…the choice…the trial…Angel’s mind reeled as it all began to take shape in his mind…

“I get that it won’t take a ‘happiness clause’ to bring on Angelus. It is you, your strength and courage, and heart that keep him in his cage. Don’t you get that?”

“No. You’re not him. I get that the demon is inside of you, a part of you – but it isn’t you.”

“If not for the history of my tribe, and your place in it, I would have thought I was reading about the life of a man who was an instrument of good. A man the world needs to fight the evils that walk among it.”

“He is that man”

“He is that man”

“He is that man…”

He couldn’t do it, he couldn’t give up; he couldn’t give up for her… on her. He had destroyed so much, had been faced with so much hate – hell, even Buffy, who he did love, and loved him, couldn’t accept him completely – but Cordy…she was the only person who saw inside, saw something worth saving, the only person who was capable of hating who he was as much as she loved the person he’d become, accepting all of it for the truth that it was. She saw the good in him; saw the power in that good. The power of the good in him…she taught him to share that good – to share that good…

“I only hoped that one day I would be worthy of a love as great as yours. I never stopped trying, please believe that. That is what I am doing now.”

‘That is what I’m doing now…pfft…’

No, that wasn’t at all what he was doing; he was betraying her faith in him…and more importantly his faith in himself…the most important gift she had ever given him…faith in himself. If nothing we do matters, than all that matters is what we do. Resolved, he now knew what he had to do…

“No, Darla, no… this isn’t how it’s supposed to be. It’s not how it’s going to be.” Her face barely registered shock before she turned to dust.
****************
Cordelia sat in her dark apartment, unable to face the light. Her mind churned over and over, events that had brought her to this moment. For the first time in a very long time she cried, the kind of tears that shook every part of her body, a cry that filled the rooms with guttural screams that shook the walls. Dennis, knowing this was a long time coming, wrapped her gently in a soft throw and retreated to his wall, allowing her this chance to release the emotions he could feel have been brewing since the firing. It was a long time before the screams became sobs.

“Oh, Dennis, what am I going to do? I’m so confused, I’m so frightened, I don’t know what to believe anymore.” She felt him as he swirled around her, his version of a hug.

“He said he loved me, and I believed him. But if he loved me, why would he fire me? You know, he read my diary, if he read my diary, then he knows what this is doing to me. If he really loved me, he wouldn’t do this.” She jumped when a note appeared before her; Dennis usually just let her wax lyrically.

“He kept you safe”

She stared at the note for a long time; anger her first emotion. He kept her safe? Leave it to a dead guy to stick up for a fellow dead guy. He kept her safe, from what, Darla? Wolfram and Hart? Them being separated didn’t keep her safe from that; they were still a threat to him, her, everyone around them. He kept her safe? From him?… From him? THAT DUMBASS!!

That’s what he was doing! He really thought he was keeping her safe from him! How did she not realize that sooner? She thought back to the dream and her vulnerability – blindfolded, hands tied behind her back, lying there with danger looming above her. Danger in the face of her would be lover, known only as Angelus. That’s what he must have been afraid of, Angelus, and what this little side trip was doing to his hold on his tenuous soul.

But wait, how does this all make sense? Think, Cordelia, let’s go through the dream together…you lying on the floor, bound and blindfolded, dressed in ancient clothes…Darla waiting over you for Angelus, you his birthday gift…birthday gift…wait…Angel didn’t talk much about the night that cursed his soul, but the little he did reveal was that it was his birthday, the gypsy girl a gift from Darla…Gypsy girl…gift…Angelus…The TRIAL!

That’s what this was all about, the TRIAL! She didn’t know exactly how she knew, but she was sure, and she needed help. Trouble was; where could she get it? She kicked herself when she realized she had no way of finding Riana, why didn’t she keep closer attention to her, get a phone number, address, anything? OK, fine, spilt milk, move on…help…Angel always went to The Host…that she could do…but would he help her, after all, he was in Angel’s camp. Pfft…please…like that was going to stop her…
**************

 


Chapter 24

BBBBUUUUUUZZZZZZZZZZZ

“Alright, alright, I’m coming…well, I’m on my way, hold your horses!” If this Vampire is not in leather pants, I’m going to stake him!

“Hi, busy?” Cordelia bounced in and sat at a table before The Host had a chance to register the identity of his late night guest.

“Kitten! What brings you here? I would think you would have been out, spending time with the pretty crowd, now that you are…less occupied,” How did I get involved with these people? Soap Operas are only fun to watch!

“I need your help, please don’t make me sing, and don’t think those comments didn’t go unnoticed!” Cordy was meaning business, trouble was; she wasn’t quite sure what business she meant.

“Whoa, pussycat, relax, tell Uncle Lorne what’s the what here.” He sat, waiting for what he was sure was going to be an interesting tale. Finally, someone who was going to give him the real story, filled with colorful commentary. This was definitely worth getting up for.

“Lorne? Who’s Lorne? Focus here, this is about me and Angel!”

“Lorne’s my name…never mind…let’s just get to why you came, what’s going on in that pretty little head of yours?”

“Well, ummm, I don’t know where to start…you know that Angel and I knew each other in Sunnydale right? Right, can’t get within two feet of either one of us without smelling that stench…anyway…parents left me…I lived in a hotel…isn’t that poetic…lost my diary…Angel found it…read it…took me to a diner, which turned out to be very nice, the food in diners isn’t really all that bad, at least not when you are starving…anyway, he ran back to the blonde wannabe slayer anyway…honestly, if you are going to go there, you’ve got to pay close attention to your roots…then graduation, quite a show that was…we both left, met up in LA and became ‘friends’…or so I thought…he got wacky…another blonde – Darla; now there’s someone who brings skank to a whole new level…anyway, he apparently is having a gypsy trial…kicked me to the curb…and now we anxiously await the latest and greatest in torture in the form of that wonderful gentleman also known as Angelus. I’m thinking, Angel, Angelus…I still stake him. What do you think? Do you have any clue or are you just too afraid to enter that horror house that is his head?” She stopped to take a much-needed breath, wow, in a nutshell, her life was sounding more and more pathetic by the minute.

“He read your Diary?” Oh my, now we really are getting to some juicy stuff.

“Yes! Can you believe that? My most private thoughts and he not only read them, he used them to hurt me!” She didn’t need a best girlfriend as long as she had Lorne.

“Did he, well, sweetums, I don’t know what to tell you, I would have to read it to let you know if that is true,” it’s worth a shot.

“LORNE! Not letting you read my diary; besides, don’t you think that our priority right now is probably Angelus? I really would like to live long enough to give him hell after everything he’s done!”

“Hey now, can’t blame a demon for trying, I mean, who wouldn’t want to know more of what makes you, you?”

“Want me to hum you a tune? Lorne, focus! Angelus?”

“Oh, Angel’s fine, read him the other night, just before he was going to the hospital to see Wes. Granted, tonight’s gonna be a rough night, but we still have our Angel, I think he’ll come out the other end just fine, now, back to this revenge thing”

“What? You didn’t think to mention that…oh I don’t know…WHEN I WALKED IN? Tonight? It’s, whatever it is, is happening tonight?… Oh god….” It suddenly registered what he had said earlier, he was ok BEFORE he came to the hospital…before she unceremoniously kicked him out of her life.

“Sorry, with all those emotions swirling around you it was all I could do to just sit down” Damn, this girl is hard to keep up with.

“And that couldn’t have been the seabreezes”

“Hey, can we get back to you? Oh god…Oh god what?” he was definitely out of practice, too much time spent with the usually witless demon crowd.

“You said Angel was OK” Her voice was trailing off in thought.

“Yeah, the other day, he was feeling especially detached from you guys, got the feeling he was rethinking his decision to let you darlings go, I just knew he’d head off to the hospital as soon as he heard what had happened.” Uh oh…something’s up…come on…spill to Uncle Lorne…here it comes, she’s turning…she’s looking at me…Yes!

“Well, aren’t I the new Miss Sensitivity…maybe I should have broken off a piece of that stick to keep in my pocket for emergencies!” Damn, always thinking of yourself… well, yeah, but who could blame me considering what’s been going on lately…right?

“Stick? What stick, honey, I’m beginning to think you should come with instructions.” Whew, it’s not too much time spent with the usually witless demon crowd, this one is just especially complicated. OK, I feel a little better, and I’m beginning to understand the frequent trips from the clueless one a little better.

“Huh, oh, never mind that. The night you read him, you said he seemed to regret letting us go?” ‘…Please tell me no.’

“Yeah, felt him almost torn in two. He did go to the hospital, right? Weren’t you glad to see him? I mean, finally, coming to his senses, in that slow sexy way of his…” ‘The following thoughts are rated NC-17, and may contain the following: explicit sexual activity (S), crude indecent language (L)…’

“Lorne? You there? Because here’s where the ‘Oh god’ comes in. He came to the hospital, all concerned and friend like, except, Oh No, not getting over on me, no way, I, in my new blossoming role as the sensitive one, basically ripped him a new one and told him to stay out of my life forever! I’m guessing that’s going to bode well on tonight. Maybe there is something to being emotionally constipated, at least I would have kept my mouth shut!” Oh, time for a major beat down on herself…huh…so this is what it feels like to brood…wow, I don’t really like it…

“You didn’t! Yeah, you’re right, I’m betting that isn’t going to bode well for him tonight at all.”

“Lorne, not helping! Sure, I love being right, but you had to pick NOW??”

“Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. Listen, Cordelia…”

“What, no lambkin…or pussycat…” He was getting serious and it was making her nervous.

“OK, if it makes you feel better, kitten, what you did or didn’t do is of no consequence. Think back to the dream, weren’t your hands tied? Hello! Calling Dr. Freud!”

“Dream, how do you know about the dream?” Oh, there was no hole big enough for her to crawl in to if he knew the contents of the dreams.

“Anagogic, remember? Anyway, your hands are tied, I would have thought the literal visual would have been enough for you, you disappoint me.” OK, maybe she wasn’t that quick and it was the seabreezes.

“Alright, I get it, no need to get snippy. Basically its all about waiting on him, and according to what you know, it’ll be clear by morning whether I’m going to stake Angel or Angelus.” OK, so the curse/trial thing was to be settled tonight, but the rest – let’s just say, gypsies had nothing on her.

“Ahhh, now there’s the kittykat I know and love!”

 


…TO BE CONTINUED…

THIS APPEARS TO BE AN UNFINISHED STORY


 

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